Navy produces fresh water for disaster aid

Fresh water available from reverse osmosis plant onboard

The RFA Wave Ruler, a custom-built
re-supply and support ship that is part of the Royal Navy’s replenishment and
logistic fleet, was in Cayman last week to pick up 2,000 emergency shelter kits
for distribution in case of a disaster.

She is currently stationed in the
Caribbean, specifically to support UK Overseas Territories should they require
humanitarian or technical assistance after a hurricane or other disaster.

Among the most pressing needs when
a disaster strikes is fresh water.

To that end, the RFA Wave Ruler
operates an onboard reverse osmosis plant, which allows the ship to produce 100
tonnes of water daily. While the ship needs about 30 tonnes for onboard use,
the balance is available for onshore for disaster relief.

“We are set up to deliver water by
boat, or if a helicopter is available, we have large containers fitted with
taps that can be distributed to communities by air,” said the commanding officer,
Captain Nigel Budd.

The Wave Ruler also stocks fuel,
first aid supplies and repair materials such as hammers, nails, wood and even

“We carry an extensive range of
disaster relief goods,” said Captain Budd. “In addition, we have onboard
capacity to provide food, water and shelter, as well as skilled personnel to
support the recovery effort.”

The RFA Wave Ruler anchored off
Grand Cayman in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 to deliver aid. More
recently, following Hurricane Paloma in November 2008, the ship sailed to the
assistance of Cayman Brac residents.

“Whenever we go to a disaster area,
we ensure that our efforts support those of the local authorities. For
instance, on the Brac, following a request from District Administrator Ernie
Scott, our on-board technician was able to restore airport communications so
planes could land with supplies.”

The ship can cross the Caribbean in
just three days to arrive at even the most distant disaster area. However, in
the case of a hurricane, it will follow the weather as closely as possible,
permitting almost immediate assistance after the All Clear is announced.

The vessel can evacuate up to 430
people and in a worst case scenario, can carry as many as 3,400 for short—less
than six hours—journeys.

Last week Cayman Islands Red Cross
staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare the thousands of shelter kits
to be loaded onto the ship, which was docked off the Jackson Point fuel
terminal in South Sound.

The kits were among 6,000 bought by
the UK’s Department of International Development and delivered to Cayman late
last month as part of a new agreement under which Cayman became the hub for the
storage and distribution of disaster relief supplies for British Overseas
Territories and other islands in the Caribbean that need help in the event of a

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