Sailors assigned to British Navy support ship the RFA Lyme Bay visited the Bridge Foundation Men’s Halfway House in West Bay to give it a cleanup on Thursday.
Around 27 active duty service members chopped bush, picked up trash, removed unwanted vegetation, fixed hurricane shutters and checked air conditioning systems at the halfway house.
“The men love it,” said captain of the ship’s disaster relief team Chris Swanwick, as he directed a light wheeled tractor brought from the vessel to assist with the cleanup. “Events like this get them off the ship and into the communities to meet the local people while getting a feel of Cayman. They get fed with Cayman homemade food and they are doing something they love.” The men were rewarded for their work with a meal of curry chicken and white rice, potato salad and upside down pineapple cake made by the women of Beacon Halfway House, also in West Bay.
Along with the removal of trash and other debris from around the club house and residential areas, the sailors also used a rock breaker from the ship to put in a walkway to the nearby pond so clients could use it as a meditation retreat.
“It’s what we do,” said SPR engineer James Bredin, taking a break along with Corporal Ross McNeil. “We don’t do much work on the ship … we just get transported, to come and help out in the community is good.” Bud Volinsky, director and operations manager of the halfway house, said it was good to have the Navy men help out for the day. Captain Swanwick said he paid a visit to the halfway house after he was given the name by Cayman’s Ministry of Home affairs Office to see what needed to be done and the men offered to help out.
The British Navy ship is on a six-month tour of the Caribbean.
While on Grand Cayman, the ship’s disaster relief teams exercised their contingency plans, conducted 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, rehearse disembarking and transporting equipment from the ship’s internal dock to the shore on a Mexeflote landing raft and gave local agencies demonstration of the their deployment capabilities.
The Lyme Bay arrived in Cayman Wednesday, on a five-day visit. It 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.