The crew of Falmouth’s adopted ship RFA Mounts Bay are performing Herculean tasks in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma as the ship aids island communities in the West Indies. Yesterday the ship was 150 miles offshore from the nearest islands waiting in a position of safety as Hurricane Maria swept across the Caribbean.

Operation Ruman is the UK’s military response to providing vital humanitarian aid and supplies to the Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The specialist humanitarian and disaster relief team on RFA Mounts Bay and her Wildcat helicopter crews are providing assistance to badly affected areas.

In an action packed week, personnel from the ship helped people on four different islands in the British Virgin Islands – Jost van Dyke, Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Anegada.

On Virgin Gorda, the third largest island in the chain and home to 4,000 people, RFA engineers worked for four hours in stifling heat to get a power station running again.

It was key not only to providing electricity to homes in the Tetor Bay district of the island, but also to the desalination plant – which turns sea water into fresh water for locals. In Road Town, Mounts Bay’s Mexeflote powered raft delivered masses of DIY stores – 75 sheets of plywood, 75 sheets of corrugated iron, 100 planks of timber, a couple of wheelbarrows and an assortment of hand tools.

The ship’s Wildcat helicopter spent ten hours in Caribbean skies either delivering supplies – fresh water especially – or transporting personnel ashore.

This involved flying in emergency supplies, including three tonnes of bottled water and a half a tonne of food, to the residents of Jost van Dyke, an island with a population of 300. The supplies will aid inhabitants as they begin to restore essential supplies.

“It’s been another highly-successful mission delivering life support to island communities: more food, water and building supplies delivered,” said Captain Stephen Norris RFA, Commanding Officer of RFA Mounts Bay

The vessel, located in waters just off Road Town, also acted as a floating petrol station, filling up Virgin Islands police boats.

After five continuous days of support, Captain Stephen Norris said his team – sailors, soldiers, Royal Marines, Fleet Air Arm, medics, engineers – had made another ‘significant contribution’ to restoring services across the British Virgin Islands.

Captain Norris added: “I am particularly proud of the RFA engineers who worked on a high-voltage power plant without any technical drawings in order to restore power to a significant number of people.

“To witness the level of destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma is truly shocking and humbling and the thoughts of all on RFA Mounts Bay go out to those in the Overseas Territories that have been affected by this tragedy.

“Faced with the Herculean task of attending several devastated islands has been immense and I can only praise the professionalism and tireless dedication of everyone onboard. We will continue with this task for as long as it takes.”

After a week concentrating her efforts around the British Virgin Islands, RFA Mounts Bay sailed 500 miles to the north west to help inhabitants of a second British overseas territory hit by Hurricane Irma. With emergency supplies and building stores stocked up once more, a 45-strong combined team of RFA sailors, Royal Marines of 40 Commando and engineers of 59 Commando, began using the ship’s Mexeflote powered raft to begin restoring vital services and structures on Grand Turk.