The United Kingdom’s Caribbean based Task Group completed a three-day Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Exercise (HADREx) in the Turks and Caicos Islands, practising their rapid response to a hurricane or natural disaster in the region.
The task Group consisted of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Wave Knight and its embarked Wildcat HMA2 helicopter, along with the Crisis Response Troop (CRT) 24 Commando Royal Engineers. HMS Medway provided remote control and command support.
The Task Group carries specialist equipment and emergency supplies for use in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. In addition to training and testing the Task Group the HADREx also provided instruction and training for the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Regiment’s personnel.
The TCI Regiment and CRT focused on initial priorities following a real-life natural disaster. This included conducting road clearance drills and raising an emergency communications mast.
The training in TCI, not only cemented plans for providing assistance in the event of a disaster but also honed the skills and coordination of the Royal Navy team to the benefit of other islands across the Caribbean. Backing up the ships, there are hundreds more people - and additional equipment - held at very high readiness in the UK, ready to fly into the region and support disaster relief efforts.
These types of Exercises are conducted regularly. The last one took place in Montserrat in July. They are designed to support the six UK Overseas Territories to build resilience in response to national disasters, focusing on the core hurricane season and it is a valuable opportunity to develop interoperability and disaster relief capabilities.
RFA Wave Knight is a fast tanker, designed to replenish naval ships with fuel, food, freshwater, and ammunition while at sea. Built-in Barrow-in-Furness and launched in 2000, this is Wave Knight’s seventh deployment to the Caribbean.
HMS Medway is a River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel, built on the Clyde and launched in 2017. It is permanently deployed to the Caribbean to support disaster relief and conduct counter-trafficking operations. Its flight deck can operate medium-sized helicopters or embark on up to eight shipping containers.
Crisis Response Troop, 24 Commando Royal Engineers is a multi-disciplinary team, which specialise in disaster relief. They are highly trained commando sappers, who provide military engineering for the Royal Marines. They specialise in amphibious warfare but are able to deploy anywhere in the world, including desert, jungle, mountainous and cold weather environments.
213 Flight, 815 Naval Air Squadron is embarked on RFA Wave Knight. They crew and pilot the Wildcat HMA2 helicopter, which is the Royal Navy’s latest generation of multi-role helicopter. With state of the art sensors and equipment, it provides reconnaissance flights and transports stores from ship to shore.