British Navy support ship the RFA Lyme Bay is scheduled to arrive Wednesday in Grand Cayman for five days.
The ship is part of the Royal Navy’s Atlantic Patrol Tasking North operation, which provides year-round humanitarian aid and disaster relief to the Caribbean, in addition to conducting counter-narcotics operations in the region.
Making its way to the Cayman Islands from Bermuda, the ship traveled along the north coast of Cayman Brac and along the south coast of Little Cayman Tuesday afternoon.
While in Grand Cayman, the ship’s disaster relief teams will exercise their contingency plans. According to Royal Navy Lt. Max Cosby, public relations officer for the RFA Lyme Bay, they will conduct reconnaissance by air and sea of potential landing sites and transport routes in the event the ship would have to dispatch supplies and equipment to remote locations around the island in the event of a disaster.
The teams will then rehearse disembarking and transporting equipment from the ship’s internal dock to the shore on a Mexeflote landing raft. Once ashore, the teams will give local agencies a demonstration of the their deployment capabilities.
“My ship’s company and I are very much looking forward to the visit and to making and remaking relationships whilst being able to liaise with disaster management authorities regarding our capabilities,” Capt. Kim Watts, the ship’s commanding officer, said in a press release.
Captain Watts will host an onboard reception and will visit with Premier Alden McLaughlin and Governor Helen Kilpatrick. The governor will receive a new flag car, which the ship brought from the U.K.
The ship’s company will also participate in a football match against Northward Prison on the prison grounds Saturday morning.
RFA Lyme Bay, a Bay-class auxiliary landing ship dock, is part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service, a flotilla of 13 naval support ships which support U.K. and allied armed forces around the world. RFA ships were known for their participation in the Falklands War in 1982.
Bay-class ships were developed in the early 2000s and are capable of offloading troops in rougher weather than previous ships. They deliver troops, but also vehicles, supplies and ammunition required to launch an assault from the water. The ships are 579 feet long, have a beam of 285 feet and a draught of 19 feet.
The RFA Lyme Bay, which was entered into service in 2007, has been a part of mine-hunting exercises in the Mediterranean, supported allied and Iraqi Navy mine-hunters from 2009 to 2012, and was used for counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.
The ship carries 165 sailors, 97 of whom are Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors – British civilians trained to Merchant Navy Standards and to operate alongside the Royal Navy. There are also 23 Royal Naval personnel aboard for helicopter operations, 18 Royal Logistic corps soldiers, and 27 Royal Marines and Royal Engineers in the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Troop.
A Royal Navy Lynx Mk8 helicopter is onboard for the deployment in counter-narcotics operations and to help with surveillance, stores delivery and search and rescue operations.
The next stop for RFA Lyme Bay will be Anguilla.