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Royal Navy Hands Off Bahamas Relief Mission to Dutch Forces

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Crew of the Mounts Bay offloads relief supplies from the vessel's Mexefloat landing dock (Royal Navy)

By The Maritime Executive 2019-09-11 15:31:00

The Royal Navy auxiliary RFA Mounts Bay has wrapped up her 10 day assistance mission for the northern Bahamas and is headed off to resupply. Mounts Bay was the first relief ship on scene in the Bahams after Hurricane Dorian struck the islands, and her crew assisted 6,000 people with emergency food, water and medical assistance. Her heavy equipment and her Wildcat helicopter helped reach areas that were rendered inaccessible by the storm, and her landing pad served as a refueling point for U.S. Coast Guard helicopter SAR crews. 

Mounts Bay has now distributed all of her supplies, including 3,000 ration packs, 100 tonnes of desalinated water, 900 emergency shelter kits and 1,000 hygiene kits. She is handing off the mission to the Dutch Navy vessels HNLMS Johan de Witt and HNLMS Snellius, which are in St. Maarten and preparing to depart for the Bahamas.

The HNLMS Johan de Witt is an amphib equipped with a well deck, two helicopters, four landing craft and two launches. She carries a company of marines, along with relief specialists, military engineers and dive teams. Snellius is a hydrographic vessel and is equipped to conduct a sonar survey of the area's coastal waters.

The Royal Navy's involvement will continue: The polar research vessel HMS Protector will call at Nassau to deliver relief supplies before continuing her scheduled voyage to Antarctica. 

The U.S. Navy did not immediately receive hurricane relief tasking in the days after the storm hit. In recent days, the U.S. Marine Corps has contributed the use of four MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft from the U.S. Navy amphib USS Bataan. The Bataan has also used her helicopter squadron and her medical company to support the effort. 

The U.S. Coast Guard spearheaded the storm relief efforts on Grand Bahama and Great Abaco Island with pre-positioned helicopter crews. Its aviation units have conducted nearly 400 rescues to date.

Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Abaco Islands as a Category 5 storm, and the Red Cross estimates that approximately 13,000 buildings were destroyed or severely damaged by wind and storm surge. Initial estimates from the United Nations’ World Food Programme suggest that 76,000 people are in need of aid. The true number of fatalities is as yet unknown, but officials have warned that it will be much higher than the current official count. As of Tuesday the number of confirmed dead stood at 50 victims, with an estimated 2,500 individuals reported missing.