Prime Minister praises RFA Lyme Bay for Bahamas relief efforts
Prime Minister David Cameron has praised sailors, soldiers and Royal Marines for their “tireless efforts” to help people hit by storms across the Americas.
The premier has written to the crew of amphibious ship RFA Lyme Bay, who are currently restoring vital services in the Bahamas after some the island chain was devastated by Hurricane Joaquin.
Mr Cameron visited the ship just a few days ago in Jamaica where he thanked the 176 men and women on board for their “really extraordinary” efforts in Dominica after the country was hit by a tropical storm.
From there the ship – designed to support Royal Marines’ amphibious landings – sailed north to the Bahamas in the wake of the hurricane, where Lyme Bay is now on her fifth day (Friday 9 October) of her relief mission.
“Your presence in this region helps provide reassurance for millions of people and I know that the vital work you do is absolutely invaluable,” said Mr Cameron.
Your presence in this region helps provide reassurance for millions of people and I know that the vital work you do is absolutely invaluablePrime Minister, David Cameron
He continued, "When called upon after Dominica was devastated by Tropical Storm Erika your speedy response and tireless efforts night and day helped thousands of people.
“You and your crew demonstrated this yet again when you were called into action to provide assistance to the people of the Bahamas after Hurricane Joaquin.”
Having helped evacuate people from Crooked Island, where homes were wrecked and utilities such as electricity and water knocked out, the ship moved first to neighbouring Acklins Island (twice the size of Glasgow, but home to just 560 people)
The helicopter flew six tonnes of supplies – such as bottles of fresh water – while Lyme Bay’s boats put four tonnes ashore.
The ship then sailed 50 miles to Long Island which is about the size of Leeds, but has fewer than 3,000 inhabitants.
The Lynx flew stores to the civilian airfield so light aircraft could then ferry them around the 80-mile-long island.
“Despite large areas of flooding around the lower-lying parts of Long Island, the main road is largely intact and the local population is busy repairing power lines and washed-away stretches of the road,” said Capt Chris Swanwick, Royal Engineers, in charge of the specialist Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Troop aboard Lyme Bay.
The ship’s Mexeflote – think ‘powered raft’ – ferried sailors, soldiers and Royal Marines ashore with 20 tonnes of emergency supplies, vehicles and the ship’s medical team.
With freshly-landed medical supplies, Surgeon Lieutenant Cara Swain and Leading Medical Assistant Lauren Armour visited the clinic in the settlement of Clarence Town (population 350) to offer their assistance and expertise.
RFA engineers restored the island’s command centre, repairing generators and fixing the internet supply, while Capt Swanwick’s team cleared blocked canals which meant flood waters could subside.
In addition to those disaster relief troops who’ve joined the amphibious ship because she’s in the region during ‘hurricane season’, Lyme Bay has a Bahamian military officer, Lieutenant Commander Michael Saunders, who’s been helping to direct the crew’s efforts.
“From a grateful nation I wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to the captain and crew of RFA Lyme Bay,” he said.
“Their contribution to our relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin has been immeasurable. Thank you.”