Ship goes down a storm with youngsters
A massive logistics ship has been loaded with Royal Bermuda Regiment trucks and equipment headed for a major disaster relief exercise in the Caribbean.
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay will transport the RBR gear to the Dominican Republic and on to St Vincent & the Grenadines for the multinational disaster training Exercise TradeWinds, to be carried out over May and June.
Mounts Bay will also act as the hurricane relief ship and carry out drug interdiction patrols in the Caribbean region and Bermuda over the hurricane season, which runs from June to the end of November.
Captain Gordon Emmerson, who joined the ship as RBR liaison officer for the exercise, said: “I’m very excited about it. I’m nervous about sea sickness, but I’m looking forward to linking up with the crew on the ship and learning about how they transport different types of cargo.”
He added that he would take part in training exercises with the crew and 24 Commando Royal Engineers, who spent a week training with the RBR before they joined the ship after it docked in Hamilton Harbour.
Royal Navy Lieutenant Lee Holborn, a Wildcat helicopter pilot from the Fleet Air Arm’s 815 Squadron attached to Mounts Bay, said: “This is my first encounter with the RBR, but should the worst happen and we find ourselves coming back here later in the year, we are really set up.
The 32-year-old, from Wiltshire, added: “We know their plans and how we would fit into them.”
Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer, visited the ship on Wednesday, just before it headed for the Dominican Republic, to brief to RFA and Royal Navy personnel on board.
He said: “We have achieved everything that we wanted to do in equipment preparation and training for the exercise.
“I gave an intelligence safety brief to the helicopter pilots on hard and soft landing sites around the island. If the need arises.
“I also wanted to make sure our standard operating procedures were up to date for ground troops supervising helicopter landings. ”
Colonel Curley added: “It’s a very impressive ship, has tons of humanitarian aid and disaster relief equipment on board and is equipped with its own powered floating dock. It’s ideal for dealing with emergencies and using beaches as well as normal dock facilities.
“And whenever we have to do an operation together, we have already been introduced and will be able to integrate seamlessly.”
He said: “I wish Captain Jeremy Macanley, his entire crew and Captain Emmerson well for their deployment.
“Captain Emmerson will be attached to Mounts Bay for five weeks and he will be met by RBR troops on the second part of TradeWinds in St Vincent & the Grenadines.”
Cub Scouts and Royal Bermuda Regiment junior leaders were earlier treated to a tour of the ship. Children from the 16th Bermuda Cub Scouts went aboard the vessel with the RBR junior leaders on Tuesday.
Zach Moniz, 10, said: “I like it a lot because I always play a lot of video games, but this is way better.”
Cara Bernhard, 11, added: “I like it because we probably wouldn’t be doing it unless we are cub scouts.”
Mounts Bay made its first call on Bermuda in 2017 in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria hitting the Caribbean.
Captain Jed Macanley said: “There is lots that we can learn from the regiment from 2017 and from where it went and assisted so it has been mutual learning.
“As much as anything, it’s good to know each other so that if we do have to pitch up we have already made the introductions, we know who we are working with, how they work, how we work and how we can synchronise together.”
Third Officer Alexander Moore explained how technology helped to power the vessel or hold its position in shallow water.
Some of the children were delighted by the ship’s rapid fire minigun and the group enjoyed the chance to get on board the Wildcat helicopter.
Day’un Smith, a 10-year-old Paget Primary School pupil, said: “I like exploring this place because there’s a lot of fun stuff.”
He added: “This is my first time seeing a helicopter in real life, it’s really good.”
Keith Bernhard, a cub scout leader who escorted the group, said: “We try to show them things that they don’t otherwise get to experience at school or in sporting activities.”