Royal Navy rises to the challenge
Scaling roofs to repair hurricane damage was one of the most challenging parts of the Royal Navy’s relief operation, according to Commander Paul Hammond, Captain of HMS Argyll.
Commander Hammond explained how he deployed a specialist team of sailors to repair roofs severely damaged by Hurricane Gonzalo, as well as by Tropical Storm Fay.
“It was a challenging operation. I have a team of specialists who can work at great height so we helped people put tarpaulins over damaged roofs and helped with repairs. The challenging thing was being able to get people up on the roofs and getting sailors to patch them up — they have to get up there using ropes.”
HMS Argyll arrived in Dockyard on Saturday morning to assist with the hurricane recovery. The UK Frigate, which was stationed in the Caribbean working on counter-narcotics operations, was called to help the Island ahead of the arrival of Category 3 hurricane Gonzalo.
First of all, the ship had to battle stormy seas as it followed Gonzalo towards Bermuda.
“We had a fairly rough three days on the sea — we tried to get here as quickly as possible so it was a fairly rough passage up from the central Caribbean,” Commander Hammond said. “It was rough but nothing the ship can’t handle.
“The first job, and my first priority, was to launch the ship’s helicopter so that we could get it into Bermuda then get a team and a photographer, as well as some Bermudians, to fly over the Island, and see where the worst of the damage was.
“We could do that before the ship arrived on the Island. You could certainly see a lot of damaged buildings, a lot of trees down and roads blocked which you can clearly see from the photographs.
“That then shaped the next process of getting the ship into harbour. I had planned to take the ship to anchor but we then realised we could get it into harbour as the cruise liner berth was free.
“On the ground the first thing we had to do was get together with the Bermuda Regiment. We tried to get as many people ashore as possible to help with the clear up and that started first thing on Sunday morning. Getting to Warwick Camp was quite difficult because the road was blocked so we had to work around that but the team have mostly been clearing roads.
“I had a team of engineers helping to get the generators working at Warwick Camp and the rest of the team have been out on the ground working alongside the Bermuda Regiment to help clear the roads.”
The crew of HMS Argyll were also instrumental in getting the airport cleared of any debris — a team of 35 crew members were tasked with clearing the runway so that planes could safely land. The ship is expected to leave the Island tomorrow when it will head back to the central Caribbean to continue with its counter-narcotics operation.