UK Armed Forces step up support to the Caribbean Overseas Territories

The RAF have delivered six ventilators and medication to support the Overseas Territories during the COVID outbreak and RFA Argus conducted training exercises in the Caribbean in preparation for hurricane season.

On 08 May an RAF flight delivered Foreign Office-sourced supplies to the Turks and Caicos Islands including six ventilators, blood and medication to support the Islands’ health care systems during the coronavirus pandemic. This flight is part of the wider support being offered by the UK Government to its Overseas Territories in order to maintain access to essential goods including food, fuel and medical supplies.

Alongside this, the Royal Navy’s disaster relief specialists on RFA Argus are preparing for hurricane season by testing their skills across six of the Overseas Territories. Operating in and around Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos, the crew have been familiarising themselves with the terrain of each island and identifying potential landing sites should aid need to be delivered.

RFA Argus and troops on board have conducted exercises on Montserrat and Turks and Caicos. The exercises use simulated scenarios to test the crew’s ability to quickly land personnel, equipment and stores ashore in the aftermath of a disaster and deliver life-saving aid to local populations.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “The commitment of our Armed Forces to support the Overseas Territories in times of pandemic or national disaster is unwavering.

“We will continue to support our partners in the Caribbean, engaging with both the local communities and authorities as they prepare for the hurricane season and adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The early deployment of a Royal Navy ship ahead of the hurricane season is vital for the personnel on board to be able to gather local knowledge of the islands and establish working practices with local authorities. Crew on board RFA Argus have been practising how to deliver aid and support local residents if a hurricane hits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ship carries hurricane-related aid from the Department for International Development such as water, ration packs, medical equipment and materials to repair damage and clear blocked roads. It is staffed by an experienced team of sailors, aviators and marines equipped to deploy in the wake of a humanitarian disaster.

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