#TurksandCaicos, October 2, 2014 – Providenciales – Turks and Caicos Media was on Sunday given an up close and personal experience with UK Armed Forces humanitarian assistance and the exploit took media into the heart of operations. Time is winding down now for this British presence which was welcomed support in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The tour started with departure from the Blue Heron FBO aboard a chopper, with HE Governor Dr John Freeman on board as reporters and cameramen were flown to still tattered JAGS McArtney Intl Airport in the Capital, Grand Turk. As we landed there was a drop off of pallets containing relief supplies from the newly moored British warship, the HMS Ocean.
Outfitted with nine aircrafts, eight seacrafts, 13 floors and over 800 personnel on the ship, which arrived Sunday morning was massive and a major show of UK support sponsored by DFID. The Governor said the ship also signals the UK Armed Forces withdrawl from the territory.
“We see from both the territory and from the UK’s viewpoint that this ship coming is a very important last surge effort to take ourselves to the best possible place in these islands, and then this will gradually ease off the number of people who are here because of course already, the very resilient Turks and Caicos Islanders are becoming more resilient, and therefore they will move on and build themselves up in the right way, thankful for what’s being done,” said HE Governor Dr. John Freeman.
“Tell us the situation on the ground, and tell us what you need, I think it has consistently been that way, tell us what you need and we will see how we can mobilize workers. We are grateful for the timeline that we were able to quickly mobilize workers to the Turks and Caicos, having military here for the last three weeks has greatly assisted, and I think for us it is more about the hands that are on the ground have been the greatest assistance,” said DG Anya Williams.
“When men to come aground as well, they are in touch with the government they look at priorities together with the government and see how men can best be deployed and used. So it has been for me a wonderful partnership, the Governor and I have been consulting on every plain and as the aid has come in and as the manpower has come in we have decided together which were the best places for it to be used”, said the Hon. Sharlene Robinson.
Before being scooted to the HMS Ocean by army boat, which was hoisted into the air to allow the delegation onto the 667ft long warship, we visited the DDME and UK managed Distribution Center, set up at the Customs Warehouse compound in GT.
World Food Programme donated the storage tents which were erected post Hurricane Maria and which house tarps, shelter kits and relief supplies. The tents are 320sq metres 240sq metres and were being filled up by UK Commandoes stationed in GT with support from 120 navy officers from the HMS Ocean.
The Canadian Frigate is gone, the Bermudan Regiment left on Saturday, scheduled are three full days for the HMS Ocean and crew and about a week to a week and a half more for the UK Commandoes then the TCI will be left to complete the rebuilding without these teams which many agree have proven stellar partners, even family.
“The HMS Ocean was operating at the commencement of this period in the east and Mediterranean when we received orders to immediately reverse course and head toward the Caribbean with all dispatch. So we steamed some four and a half thousand miles, crossing six time zones in only twelve days, a very fast response and I think that demonstrates how much this government’s steadfast commitment to the region and our determination to maximize support to the British Overseas Territories and the region more widely,” said Captain Robert Pedre.