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British ship turned back – Premier

RFA Mounts Bay. Photo Credit: Royal Navy

While declaring that he is pleased with the resilience and progress being demonstrated following heavy rainfall in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) on Monday, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said it has been decided that a British ship relatively near the territory is not needed at this time.

His comments come as a tropical wave caused widespread flooding and landslides mere weeks after the Royal Navy vessel RFA Mounts Bay left the BVI, promising to return in the event of a natural disaster.

Some residents have noted that, although a tropical wave has hit, there is still no sign of the said vessel.

Premier Smith, in a press statement regarding recovery efforts, last evening explained: “We have been communicating with the UK authorities and other regional partners since the [tropical wave] began on Monday.”

“The UK Ministry of Defence immediately put RFA Mounts Bay including its crew and assets on standby, and instructed the ship to sail closer to BVI to assist if requested to do so.”

“But, given that our local authorities have made substantial progress in clearing roads and restoring power, and the significant assistance of the community, the ship was stood down and returned to its previous tasking,” added Premier Smith. He did not state who gave the advice that resulted in the vessel being turned away.

Captain of the vessel Christopher Clarke, while in the BVI recently, noted that there are about 400 crew members aboard the vessel. “In the event of a natural disaster, this ship cannot replace the infrastructure of the BVI, but what we can do is bring very definitive bespoke capabilities, and if they are applied in the right sequence at the right time, they can really assist. We have helicopters, trucks and other vehicles and instruments on board to assist, in addition to food, if ever so needed. We bring quite a variation of equipment vehicles and skills,” the captain explained.

More named storms

Premier Smith, in the meantime, yesterday expressed gratitude to the various public and private entities that have been assisting with the recovery efforts.

“Several Government agencies have been deployed with other resources and – in conjunction with private contractors and members of my Government – will continue to accelerate the recovery efforts. We thank all of them for their collective and commendable efforts during this time.”

“Relief efforts for individuals displaced and severely affected have also been arranged, and assistance is being provided as quickly as possible. I understand your needs are urgent, and we are working tirelessly to meet those needs,” Premier Smith further said.

He also stated that persons who need additional assistance should send text or WhatsApp messages to this number: 468-9524.

Premier Smith, in the meantime, urged residents to remain vigilant especially considering that experts have increased the number of named storms and hurricanes expected during this season.

He explained: “The Department of Disaster Management continues to monitor other weather systems and provide advice as information becomes available. In fact, earlier [Friday], they have informed us that the forecasters have increased the number of named storms and hurricanes expected during this Atlantic Hurricane Season. So, while we fast track our recovery efforts, we must also be prepared for any possible impacts.”

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