Armed Forces Minister greets HMS Illustrious
Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious - which played a major part in the typhoon relief effort in the Philippines in November – returned home to Portsmouth today (January 10).
The 23,000-tonne ship was operating in the Gulf when she was diverted to the Philippines to relieve Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring which was among the first ships on scene to offer aid.
As part of the UK government’s response to the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, Illustrious and her 950 crew spent three weeks delivering emergency UK aid supplies and repairing key services and broken infrastructure.
Armed ForcesMinister Mark Francois, who welcomed the ship back to her home port, said: “HMS Illustrious played a vital role in getting critical aid supplies and medics to the worst hit areas of the Philippines, including some of the most hard to reach islands. Her crew, their families and friends have dealt admirably with unplanned separation over Christmas and the New Year to make that happen. Britain can be proud of the part she and all those who operated from her have played, vividly demonstrating the UK’s ability to extend positive influence around the globe. I am delighted to have been able to visit on her return to her base port of Portsmouth and to personally thank those involved.”
Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening said: “When Typhoon Haiyan struck, we knew we had to think big and act fast.
“By deploying HMS Illustrious, with her 950-strong crew, seven helicopters and ability to produce drinkable water, our fantastic armed forces saved lives and got vital UK aid supplies to the worst-hit parts of the Philippines.
“HMS Illustrious, and all she achieved, sums up Britain’s ‘all hands on deck’ approach to helping people in desperate need in the wake of deadly disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.
“The homecoming of HMS Illustrious is a proud moment for the entire country.”
The ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Mike Utley, said: “Our capabilities perfectly matched what was required in the Philippines. We were able to get to where we were needed quickly and our size and flexibility meant that we could store and distribute extremely large volumes of emergency aid supplies.
“Our embarked helicopters were essential in surveying large areas including remote islands and then in delivering aid to places that simply could not be accessed by any other means. Most significantly, many members of the ship’s company and the 300 additional embarked sailors, Royal Marines, soldiers and airmen were able to get ashore to assess needs, deliver food and repair key services and broken infrastructure.”
He added: “The people in the Philippines are extremely resilient, but it was clear to me that those in the worst hit areas had been through a lot. Given the volume and type of aid and assistance that we were able to deliver to the more inaccessible islands, we believe that we set in excess of 40,000 people firmly on the road to recovery.
HMS Illustrious sailed from Portsmouth in August for Cougar 13 – the annual deployment of theUK’s high-readiness Response Force Task Group. The deployment included exercises in the Mediterranean and Gulf and counter piracy operations around the Horn of Africa.
Illustrious will undergo essential maintenance in Portsmouth before deploying again later in the year.
The British Government has pledged more than £75 million in response to Typhoon Haiyan to get shelter, clean water and emergency supplies to over a million people in need.