UK military provides relief to the Caribbean

A Royal Air Force Puma helicopter was delivered to the US Virgin Islands to assist with the humanitarian efforts post Hurricane Irma (Crown copyright 2017)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sent equipment and personnel to the Caribbean to help local populations recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

On 8 September, nearly 300 UK military personnel equipped with aid supplies left the UK to provide immediate relief to people who had seen their homes destroyed. Departing from RAF Brize Norton, three transport planes (a C17, Voyager and A400M) carried over 200 Royal Marines, as well as engineers and other specialist personnel, medical supplies and aid including emergency shelter kits, rations and clean water. Amongst those deployed were the 40 Commando Royal Marines and 3 Commando Brigade.

The aircraft landed in Barbados as part of the UK Joint Taskforce, which is using Barbados as a hub to distribute aid. The C17 continued its journey on to the US Virgin Islands, which the MoD noted has the only usable runway in the region, with 85 personnel onboard.

On 9 September, a further C17 left from Brize Norton carrying a Puma helicopter.

In addition to the arrival of the aircraft, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Mounts Bay has also reached the British Virgin Islands, with an embarked Wildcat Helicopter conducting reconnaissance flights and a second helicopter delivering supplies and aid. Sixteen Royal Engineer Commandos deployed from Mounts Bay are working to clear the runway to allow further aid to reach the islands.

A second ship, HMS Ocean, was diverted from its tasking in the Mediterranean to pick up aircraft and supplies at Gibraltar to carry them to the Caribbean.

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