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HMS Ocean arrives today ahead of hurricane relief mission

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The Royal Navy Flagship HMS Ocean arrives in Gibraltar today to pick up stores in preparation for its aid mission in the Caribbean as Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said it was “fantastic” that Gibraltar would be contributing to its relief contents.

The vessel, a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ship, will join Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay providing logistical and medical support to Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricanes Irma and José.

HMS Ocean was operating in the Mediterranean but was re-tasked last week to support the humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.

Chinook helicopters arrived in Gibraltar yesterday ahead of the ship’s arrival.

Before coming to Gibraltar for the National Day celebrations, Sir Alan has been involved in the work of assisting and supporting in the aftermath of the damage done.

Sir Alan’s visit to Gibraltar does not quite overlap with the arrival of HMS Ocean as its arrival coincides with his departure to participate in the EU vote in the British Parliament.

Speaking to the Chronicle, however, he said it was “fantastic” that Gibraltar would be contributing to the relief contents of HMS Ocean.

“But, more broadly Hurricane Irma followed by Hurricane José is probably the biggest natural disaster, certainly the worst hurricanes in anyone’s living memory, so this is massive - Antigua and Barbuda have been completely wiped out, the Turks and Caicos Island have been very hard hit, the British Virgin Islands have seen the collapse of a lot of the apparatus of government,” he said.

“So this is massively important, of course, we’re itching to get in there and do something – it’s very difficult to do it when the winds are still raging but it’s all hands on deck, this is a massive endeavour and we are going to help everybody in every way we possibly can.”

This comes as the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo called on the people of Gibraltar to stand in solidarity with the people of the Overseas Territories of the Caribbean.

In his address at the traditional SDGG political rally, Mr Picardo reflected on those affected the recent devastation. He said: “Like us, they are part of the Great British family of nations.”

“Our thoughts must be also with the people of the United States, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda and all the other nations affected by the storm.”

“Today, they are being tested by the devastation of Hurricane damage.”

“We too will be helping with donations from Gibraltar that we hope will sail on Ocean on Tuesday,” Mr Picardo said.

“For now, today, let us join in solidarity by sending a heartfelt round of applause from Gibraltar across the Ocean to all those affected by Hurricane Irma.”

Photo by David Parody

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