RAF Odiham deploy to the CaribbeanAircraft and personnel from RAF Odiham have made up a large number of the UK response to the Hurricanes in the Caribbean.
With a large number of personnel aboard HMS Ocean when it was re-tasked, the Station’s first priority was to resupply the Force in order to sustain the additional voyage across the Atlantic. Spooling up aircraft and resources, the first 2 Aircraft left for Gibraltar fully laden with kit and equipment within 24 hours, this was followed less than 24hours later with a further 2 RAF Chinooks carrying more supplies as well as essential engineering and medical equipment for the RNAS and the Commando Helicopter Force.
With most of the Station working through the weekend, plans were drawn up to send 2 more Aircraft to the devastated region.
27 Sqn this time took the lead, drawing engineering support from across the whole Station, aircraft were flown to RAF Brize Norton to be disassembled and prepped to be flown by Tactical Air Transport. A huge undertaking from all the personnel involved. A party was also flown to receive the aircraft and ensure they could be rebuilt as soon as possible and begin to assist the growing number of UK personnel.
The Rotary heavy-lift capability has proved invaluable, moving personnel kit and equipment around the region. The first Chinook began work in Turks and Caicos, lending a hand between Hurricanes Irma and Maria, before flying to Trinidad to avoid the worsening weather. OC 27 Sqn, the detachment commander said “Personnel are well prepared for the next few days and I expect we are in the perfect place for the relief effort afterwards”.
Since Hurricane Maria both deployments have been busy delivering Aid, HMS Ocean came alongside on the 21st Sep and was immediately seen dropping off supplies to the islands, these included heavy plant machinery, an amphibious vehicle and a pickup donated by the government of Gibraltar. This has all been achieved along with the routine servicing and maintenance of the Chinook whilst operating from a ship.
Congratulations to MAcr Dale “Ginge” Folkard for achieving the significant milestone of 4000 flying hours during Op RUMAN tasking on 22 Sep 17.
27 Sqn have been busy flying aid between the islands. They also flew the Dominican Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, to talks with his officials at the cricket pitch at Roseau, this has been a key site in the tasking generated by the island government with UK assistance.
18 Sqn(B) arrived with HMS Ocean just off the British Virgin Islands at 0600 on Fri 22 Sept. Personnel immediately deployed on the ground as part of the HMS Ocean Command Liaison Team to link in with 40 Commando, and flew multiple aircraft sorties delivering much needed aid and heavy equipment across the island chain. The effect and increase in tempo aviation brought was immediately felt by both the islanders as well as by the Royal Marines. With an intense 3 days completed HMS Ocean set sail on the evening of Sun 24 Sep and moved to Anguilla, arriving first thing on Monday. Another intense period of activity awaits!
No-one else in theatre can use three cargo hooks to carry up to 8 tonnes of stores and equipment at one go!!
If DfID need kit and supplies moving without a runway in play, the Chinook force can make it happen quicker than anyone else in the Area of Operations.