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Lt Ben Eglington discusses plans with local engineers and emergency services

Praise for HMS Argyll as she finishes hurricane clear-up in Bermuda

Published: 22 Oct 2014

Sailors from HMS Argyll have completed a four-day clear-up operation in Bermuda to help the island recover from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Gonzalo.

They have left the tiny British territory with praise ringing in their ears for their efforts to clear roads, restore power supplies, and search the island for remote and inaccessible sites affected by the storm.

Those efforts, alongside the soldiers of the Bermuda Regiment and local authorities, mean Bermuda is now “open for business” again.

Before sailing to resume her counter-drugs patrols of the Caribbean – she bagged £21m of cocaine earlier in her deployment – the frigate’s crew were invited to a thank-you ceremony.

“I thank you for your work here as a Bermudian,” the island’s Junior Minister for National Security and Legal Affairs Senator Jeffrey Baron told the ship’s company. 

“Bermuda has shown remarkable resilience and the Royal Navy’s presence has enhanced what we have done to recover from Hurricane Gonzalo in every way.”

HMS Argyll arrived in Bermuda hot on the heels of the hurricane, braving rough seas to arrive as soon as possible after the storm had passed.

Using the Bermuda Regiment’s Warwick Camp as their base during the four-day operation, the ship provided a range of assistance including aerial reconnaissance – sending her Lynx helicopter aloft to scour the island for problems not immediately evident on the ground – engineering support, specialist teams to work high up, and a surge of manpower to clear vital transport links.

Among the sailors toiling on the latter was Leading Writer Judson Cupid. He said: “I am really pleased that the work we have done here has made a real difference to help the people of Bermuda.

“Our ship’s main mission in the region is to help the UK’s overseas territories in case of a hurricane or another disaster and this proves that we can and will assist in any way we can.”

Petty Officer (Engineering Technician) Dean “Gabby” Hayes, from Lancashire, added: “We’re pleased to be here and helping. I’ve never done anything like this before – it’s very rewarding and everyone has been so friendly.”

The work Argyll carried out in Bermuda was exactly what she planned for before sailing from her native Plymouth back in the spring.

While patrolling the Caribbean, her sailors have met regularly with emergency services and authorities in the islands the frigate has visited to discuss how they could combine forces in the event of a natural disaster.

Lieutenant Matthew Tuner, who worked with the Bermuda Regiment at their centre of operations, said the local troops were “were well prepared and professional and we have worked closely with them at every turn to ensure that Bermuda recovers from the effects of hurricane Gonzalo as quickly as possible.”

Argyll’s Commanding Officer Commander Paul Hammond is pleased that the training and planning his men and women put in were used to good effect in Bermuda.

“One of the reasons the Navy still puts a ship in the Caribbean is to provide disaster relief in the event of a hurricane,” he said.

“The main role of our team on the ground is extra hands to work with the Regiment to make sure Bermuda is ready for business.”

Bermuda Regiment Commanding Officer Lt Col Michael Foster-Brown, who is on secondment from The Rifles, added: “We are very grateful for the support of HMS Argyll. They’ve provided more than 70 sailors each day to assist with work parties and also teams trained to operate safely at height.

“Their Lynx helicopter provided valuable aerial reconnaissance and could have saved lives if the effects of the hurricane had been worse.”


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