#GrandTurk, June 28, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – [CORRECTION]Following its deployment to TCI in March to help counter the surge in illegal sloops from Haiti, the Royal Navy’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship, RFA Mounts Bay, returned to TCI on 27 June in the course of its deployment to the region to support the efforts of the UK’s Caribbean Overseas Territories to prepare for this year’s hurricane season. His Excellency the Governor, the Hon. Premier and Her Excellency the Deputy Governor met the Commanding Officer of RFA Mounts Bay, Captain Peter Selby, on board the ship while it was in Grand Turk.
While here, Mounts Bay delivered hurricane equipment and supplies which have been donated to TCI. At the request of the Department for Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME), Mounts Bay’s Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Troop – a contingent of Royal Engineers and Royal Marines – carried out a range of hurricane preparedness tasks on the island including work at the customs yard and testing of DDME’s radio equipment. Members of the HADR Troop, several of whom had been stationed in TCI immediately after Hurricane Irma in September last year, also visited key installations on Grand Turk and held meetings with the Governor, Deputy Governor, DDME and others to discuss TCI’s state of readiness for this hurricane season and how the UK may be able to support TCI’s efforts in the event of another hurricane hitting TCI this season.
Separately this week, representatives of the UK military and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office attended the 6th Caribbean Regional Information Operations Council (CRIOC) meeting in Providenciales hosted by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force. The meeting brought together representatives from across the region and international partners including from the UK, US, Canada, the Netherlands, Bermuda and the Bahamas for talks on coordinating efforts in the event of a repeat of last year’s catastrophic weather events. Participants in the meeting also took part in the first cross-Caribbean hurricane response exercise aimed at helping contribute towards preparations being in place for the hurricane season and bringing together partner countries to this end.
Commenting on the visit of RFA Mounts Bay and other events taking place in TCI this week, His Excellency the Governor said;
“As we in these islands of Turks and Caicos continue with our preparations for the hurricane season, I wish to express thanks for the visit of various advisors from the UK’s Armed Forces and for the return of RFA Mounts Bay, following its deployment here in March, which has delivered hurricane specific equipment and supplies. I was pleased to be joined by the Premier and Deputy Governor when we met the Captain of RFA Mounts Bay on board the ship on 27 June to discuss preparations for this year’s season. Together these visits and initiatives are demonstration of the UK Government’s commitment to the people of this Territory and of its determination to play its part in hurricane preparations. We all hope and pray that we will not again suffer hurricanes of the scale seen in TCI last year; but it is our collective duty to make ourselves ready to deal with such a possibility should it come to pass.
‘In recent days I have – with the Premier – co-Chaired the 5th TCI Hurricane State of Preparedness Meeting with representatives of all relevant TCI departments in order to continue to keep us focused on the necessary preparatory work for this hurricane season. I have also welcomed the visit of military representatives from the UK, especially those who were stationed in TCI immediately after Hurricane Irma and have returned with Mounts Bay, and our international partners who together with local officials and members of the RTCIPF have held discussions and conducted a training exercise to ensure we are all as connected as possible and ready, if needed, to act in a coordinated way if we again suffer another hurricane. The visits by HM Armed Forces advisors and by RFA Mounts Bay are part of that wider effort intended to give reassurance to all of us in TCI that we are doing all we can ourselves and with others to ensure we are as well prepared as possible.”