HMS Daring’s Lynx proved indispensable in first finding devastated remote communities in the Philippines – then delivering vital aid to them. During a hectic five days of flying, the helicopter carried more than eight tonnes of aid, ferried 150 people about and got to villages far beyond the reach of the destroyer’s sailors working on the shoreline.
HMS Daring’s Lynx proved indispensable in first finding devastated remote communities in the Philippines – then delivering vital aid to them.
As the destroyer makes for Tokyo after completing her relief mission in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, the ship’s flight – from 815 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton – are taking stock of their achievements during a hectic ten days around the islands.
Daring handed over to carrier HMS Illustrious earlier this week after delivering water, shelters and food and providing medical care and carrying out temporary repairs to buildings and amenities on islands around the Visayan Sea.
“In my 38 years service there have been only two other occasions that have felt as satisfying and rewarding as this humanitarian aid operation,” said Flight Commander and Falklands veteran Lt Cdr Joe Harper.
“The first is the Falklands campaign when I was doing exactly what we are trained for, and the second was in the Caribbean on counter-piracy operations.”
The reconnaissance missions the helicopter flew as the Portsmouth-based warship approached the Philippines gave Daring “a head start” in identifying the many isolated villages and communities still in need of urgent assistance.
And once the Type 45 destroyer was loaded up with humanitarian aid, the helicopter was crucial in getting to villages the sailors themselves could never have reached due to the distance from the shore and the wrecked road network on many islands.
“A vehicle travelling by land carrying the amount of aid that we managed to get ashore to these islands would have to get through badly damaged roads and infrastructure to even stand a chance of getting to some of the villages we visited,” explained Daring’s operations officer Lt Jason Hannigan.
“Ultimately stores coming from land would be most likely distributed to the first person in need rather than the most needy – which is the exact opposite of what the Lynx can provide.
“For example with one of the communities – Rohas – we could take aid and people to help around six times an hour whereas by land that speed and agility could never be matched.”
The Lynx flew 1,400 miles on surveys before getting stuck into the physical relief effort, delivering 8½ tonnes of stores – more than one and half times the aircraft’s own weight – during 21 sorties.
The helicopter also ferried 150 people to and from the various islands Daring assisted during her week in the Philippines.
The 32 hours flying on Operation Patwin – the codename for the UK military’s response to the typhoon – in just five days is a far higher tempo than the Lynx would normally be expected (aircrew must clock up at least 15 hours in the skies every month to remain current).
Such a high tempo demanded 128 ‘man hours’ in Daring’s hangar and on the flight deck as the helicopter engineers and maintainers toiled to ready the Lynx for the next day’s missions.
The destroyer – and Lynx flight – have now resumed their global deployment which has seen both away from the UK since late May.
To date, Daring has visited the Caribbean, California, Hawaii, Australia and Singapore, from where the destroyer was diverted to support the UK’s major relief effort in the Philippines.
Press Release, November 28, 2013; Image: Royal Navy