Describing the work of the crew so far, Tactical Flight Officer Neil Mohammed, said, “We deployed very quickly into the field, delivering supplies and specialists. On Sunday we took six flights to Abaco, extending from Marsh Harbour to Coopers Town. The Air Ops crew transported United Nations specialists to assess humanitarian aid requirements. We delivered specialist technicians to start recovering the hospital on Abaco, and we have been evacuating displaced people, including on one flight, two babies, who were evacuated to Nassau. There’s still so much more we can do.”
The RCIPS Air Operations Unit has been working alongside the Royal Navy vessel, RFA Mounts Bay, in their relief efforts, police said, noting that the two teams meet each year to plan for disasters such as this. The Cayman helicopter crews have now been tasked with supporting British efforts, including the transfer of personnel, blood and medical supplies.
The UK minister with responsibility for the overseas territories, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, who visited the Cayman Islands at the end of June and accompanied the AOU on a training exercise with RFA Mounts Bay’s Wildcat helicopter, sent thanks to the RCIPS crew via social media. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab updated Parliament yesterday on how the UK is helping the Bahamas, highlighting that the Cayman helicopter had been deployed.
The aircraft was sent to the Bahamas last week with two crews, comprising two pilots, Nigel Pitt and Richard Morcombe, and four tactical flight officers, Mohammed, Ronnie Pollard, Greg Banks Jr and Daniel McIlhagga. An additional pilot, Captain Elaine Hunter, joined the AOU crew on Monday. The crew was also joined on Saturday by their Arrow Aviation engineer, Alex Bordelon, to carry out preventative maintenance checks during the deployment.
At the request of the Bahamas Government, the helicopter will continue its support of relief efforts, police said. The extension of its deployment has been approved by Governor Martyn Roper and Premier Alden McLaughlin.
Saying that the RCIPS helicopter crews were “working tirelessly in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian”, the governor also noted how important it was that the RCIPS Air Operations Unit and RFA Mounts Bay trained together. “I’d like to thank all the crew for their efforts in what must be an extremely difficult environment,” he added.
The premier said, “As we approach the fifteenth anniversary of Ivan this Wednesday, many of us will remember the support we were offered by our Caribbean brothers and sisters during our time of need. The images we are seeing following Dorian will bring back many memories of not just Ivan but also Hurricane Paloma that impacted Cayman Brac in November 2008. We stand ready to offer the Bahamians further support if required.”
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.