Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond stepped in for helicopter carrier HMS Ocean as NATO flagship to allow the Royal Navy fleet flagship to bring vital supplies to Caribbean areas affected by Hurricane Irma
The fleet flagship HMS Ocean was originally planned to lead NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 in the Mediterranean, but was retasked along with destroyer HMS Diamond following the disastrous hurricane.
HMS Diamond sailed from Portsmouth last week for maritime security operations in the Middle East which are now being postponed as the ship assumes its role of SNMG2 flagship in the Med.
HMS Ocean will now pick up disaster relief stores in Gibraltar and head immediately to the Caribbean to join the efforts to rebuild the devastated communities there. Diamond and Ocean passed each other in the Med on Sunday evening.
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay is already in the area, helping the people of the British Virgin Islands by delivering supplies and medical support from her Wildcat helicopter. Royal Marines from 40 Commando are also on the ground in the capital, Tortola, which was one of the worst-affected areas after the Category 5 storm struck.
Commander Ben Keith, the commanding officer of HMS Diamond, said: “Responding to disasters like this and delivering humanitarian aid to devastated communities is exactly what the Royal Navy trains for and is always available to do.
“While HMS Diamond won’t be playing a direct part in the delivery of disaster relief to the Caribbean, my ship’s company are pleased to be able to help in a different way, by freeing up our flagship to bring that vital aid.
HMS Diamond left Gibraltar on September 10, having spent the weekend with the community there as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of Gibraltar’s first referendum in 1967, in which Gibraltarians voted to remain under British sovereignty.
Accompanied by Gibraltar’s permanent Royal Navy presence, patrol boats HMS Sabre and Scimitar, HMS Diamond conducted a high-speed ‘sovereignty patrol’ of territorial waters when she arrived on Friday.