The grim realization that the 2020 hurricane season is almost here came as the Royal Navy announced that it is already in the Caribbean region making preparations on how it will serve British Overseas Territories such as the BVI should a disaster strike.
Each year the Royal Navy makes deployment to the region to be on call in the event that the hurricane season becomes too active and therefore the islands require assistance.
The RFA Argus visited the Territory this month as part of the Navy’s preparation and in further notice of its plan to be on call this season the Navy announced in a posting on 23 April that “They have already scouted Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla,” in preparation of service in case of natural disasters.
The Navy stated that it will be providing helicopter carrier/support ship RFA Argus linked up with the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the region, HMS Medway, to begin their combined disaster relief planning and preparations.
The posting also stated, “In addition, wherever Argus visits as part of her deployment to the region she’s sending her helicopters – three Merlin troop carriers from 845 Naval Air Squadron and one smaller Wildcat maritime patrol aircraft – into the skies to provide the latest information on helicopter and beach landing sites if the worst should happen.”
RFA Argus, as part of the Royal Navy’s Atlantic patrol Tasking (North) was deployed to the Caribbean, and visited the Territory on 17 April to conduct a series of overflights of the British Virgin Islands.
During the visit two helicopters, Merlin and Wildcat flew over Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke.
The purpose of the flights were to familiarize the crew with BVI’s topography and to identify possible landing sites that could be used to deliver relief during the upcoming hurricane season, should it be needed.
The RFA Argus is stocked with hurricane-related supplies from the UK Government, such as water, ration packs, medical equipment and materials to repair damage and clear blocked roads, if any of the Overseas Territories is impacted by a hurricane.