Royal Navy amphibious helicopter carrier, HMS Illustrious, has been thanked by senior members of the Philippine government in Manila as the ship completes her task of supporting the disaster relief mission following Typhoon Haiyan.
HMS Illustrious has been in the Philippines since 25 November delivering aid supplies and providing ‘hands on’ help to many Filipinos living on some of the more remote islands affected by the storm. She took over from HMS Daring, a Type 45 destroyer, which had been in the Philippines providing immediate support since November 15.
Several senior members of the Philippines Government and Armed Forces, including the Secretary of National Defence, Voltaire Gazmin, visited Illustrious during her brief time in port to thank members of DFID and the Armed Forces personnel who have been embarked on the carrier during her part in the aid mission.
Philippine Secretary of National Defence, Voltaire Gazmin said,
“No amount of words can precisely express our most profound gratitude for the noble deeds of HMS Illustrious and the British sailors in extending utmost assistance to the victims of that deadly natural disaster which has ravaged many islands of our archipelago.
“We can only thank you from the depths of our hearts and treasure your most appreciated help in our trying moments that has in no small way eased the pains and sufferings of our affected countrymen.”
Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond said,
“I am extremely proud of our military’s hard work in support of humanitarian relief in the Philippines.
“I am grateful to the RAF detachments and the crews of HMS Illustrious and HMS Daring for their swift distribution of aid during the disaster relief operation and am pleased that the DFID will continue to support the recovery effort.”
International Development Secretary, Justine Greening said,
“HMS Illustrious has played a crucial role in getting vital aid supplies and medics to the worst hit areas, including some of the most hard to reach islands. Britain can be proud of the part she has played.
“The UK Government has made more than £60 million available for the relief effort and will continue to stand by the people of the Philippines.
“While relief efforts continue, we are working hard to protect women and girls from to sexual violence and trafficking. We are committed to helping the people of the Philippines as they rebuild their country.”
Captain Mike Utley, Commanding Officer of HMS Illustrious said,
“The ability of Illustrious to provide assistance to isolated islands off the Philippines has been a key part of the overall UK aid mission.
“Each of these communities had different needs following the Typhoon and our response has been led by close coordination between the Philippine people, DFID and the UK military
“My people are proud to have helped set these communities on the path to longer term recovery.”
With guidance from on board DFID specialists, the ship’s company of 650 men and women and 300 additional personnel including Royal Marines, Army and civilian medical staff have repaired buildings damaged by the storm, cleared debris, delivered medical care and the seven embarked helicopters have delivered provisions and tools to allow island communities to begin to reconstruct their lives.
HMS Illustrious will begin her return journey to the UK tomorrow once she has re-supplied in Manila. DFID will continue to coordinate the UK contribution to the Philippine Government’s humanitarian aid mission.
During their time in the Philippines HMS Daring and HMS Illustrious concentrated on distributing aid to remote islands that had not yet been reached by other aid organisations.
More than 70 islands were surveyed for signs of damage with more than 16,000 litres of water distributed, enough tarpaulins to cover 6,000 homes, more than 70 tonnes of food given out and 76 disaster relief pack issued that contain tools and supplies.
Sailors rebuilt school roofs, created salination plants for decontaminated water wells and rebuilt boat engines for the fishermen to be able to continue their livelihood.
Press Release, December 13, 2013; Image: Navy