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RFA Lyme Bay Disaster Relief Troop deploy ashore
Royal Navy sailor LAET Cain escorts survivor
Disaster Relief Meeting aboard RFA Lyme Bay
Bottles of water are brought ashore at Crooked Island
Homes devastated by Hurricane


Published: 10 Oct 2015

SAILORS, soldiers, Royal Marines and airmen helped evacuate three dozen people from aBahamasisland devastated by Hurricane Joaquin.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA)LymeBayand her embarked Lynx Helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton helped inhabitants on theBahamasIslanddevastated by the hurricane. 

A remote community on tinyCrookedIsland– 250 miles from the Bahamian capitalNassauwere flown to safety, just one strand of the relief effort led by amphibious shipRFALymeBayin the wake of the 130 mph storm.

LymeBay’s crew all weighed into the relief effort on tinyCrookedIslandafter homes were flattened, power lines brought down, water supplies severed and communities cut off by Hurricane Joaquin.

“As soon as we hear of people in trouble, everyone wants to do all they can to help. The Mexeflote is normally the first ashore and it means a lot to be one of the first to offer help to the survivors,” said 20-year-old Private Dale McIlduff of 17 Port and Maritime Regiment which runs the Mexeflote.

Amphibious support shipLymeBaybroke off her patrols looking for drug traffickers in the Caribbean and, packed with emergency supplies and a specialist disaster relief team who’ve already helped out after mudslides caused havoc inDominica, headed for theBahamas.

On the way, the ship’s Lynx helicopter based at RNAS Yeovilton inSomersetwith 815 Naval Air Squadron scoured the sea for the container ship El Faro. The US Coastguard asked the fliers to investigate a field of debris on the surface, wreckage which was later confirmed as belonging to the missing vessel.

The helicopter was airborne again over Crooked Island – about four times the size of Portsmouth but home to just 350 people  to allow Lyme Bay’s Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Troop to plan what to do and where.

Among the first tasks were evacuating around three dozen people including four people with disabilities, one an elderly woman in a wheelchair from Landrail Point on the west coast, flying them toCrookedIsland’s airport so they could be evacuated toNassau.

After that the Royal Engineers and Royal Marines of the humanitarian troop were put ashore by the Mexeflote, a self-propelled pontoon with stores, vehicles including a JCB and plant equipment to begin restoring basic supplies, fixing the wrecked houses, and handing out water.


Captain Chris Swanwick RE, commanding the Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Troop added:

“We proved what we could do in Dominica and although the situation in the Bahamas is very different, that previous success meant my team was more experienced and even more ready to go.

The next few days will be hard work but the high quality of the men in the Troop means we will not stop until we have made a real difference to lives of the survivors.”

Having successfully evacuated people from the western side ofCrookedIslandand provided the necessary help to locals,LymeBayhas now moved to neighboringAcklinsIslandto assist people hit by Joaquin there.

First Officer Ian Howard,RFALymeBay’s Navigating and Operations Officer said; 

“The combined efforts of the civilian crew and military teams on board have ensured the remaining survivors on Crooked Island are now able to sustain themselves. Over the next few days we will continue to offer relief and do all we can to ease the suffering of the survivors ashore.” 


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