Inhabitants of a remote community on tiny Crooked Island – 250 miles from the Bahamian capital Nassau – were flown to safety as part of a hurricane relief effort led by amphibious ship RFA Lyme Bay.
Sailors, soldiers, Royal Marines and airmen all weighed into the relief effort on the Island after homes were flattened, power lines brought down, water supplies severed and communities cut off by Hurricane Joaquin.
Amphibious support ship Lyme Bay broke off her patrols looking for drug traffickers in the Caribbean and, packed with emergency supplies and a specialist disaster relief team, headed for the Bahamas.
On the way, the ship’s Lynx helicopter – normally based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset with 815 Naval Air Squadron – scoured the sea for the container ship El Faro.
The US Coastguard asked the fliers to investigate a field of debris on the surface – wreckage which was later confirmed as belonging to the missing vessel.
The helicopter was airborne again over Crooked Island – about four times the size of Portsmouth but home to just 350 people – to allow Lyme Bay’s Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Troop to plan what to do and where.
After that the Royal Engineers and Royal Marines of the humanitarian troop were put ashore by the Mexeflote – a self-propelled pontoon – with stores, vehicles including a JCB and plant equipment to begin restoring basic supplies, fixing the wrecked houses, and handing out water.
Having successfully evacuated people from the western side of Crooked Island and provided the necessary help to locals, Lyme Bay has now moved to neighbouring Acklins Island to assist people hit by Joaquin there.
Image: Royal Navy