The British Navy gave several Cayman residents and reporters a chance to tour the RFA Lyme Bay support ship during its five-day stopover in Cayman.
Hosts Lt. Max Crosby, the Navy’s public relations officer, Christopher Ovens, Navy operations officer, Flight Commander Rob Kenchington and Stephen Ledsham, supply officer and the ship’s Captain Kim Watts took visitors on a tour of the ship’s operations planning room, the bridge, Annex radar room, Mexeflote landing deck, medical treatment room and galley.
Lt. Crosby gave an update on what the ship had been up to in the Cayman Islands and the key capabilities of the ship. As the ship passed Cayman Brac on Tuesday, he said, it made condolence signals for a resident who had recently passed away. While in Grand Cayman, the ship’s personnel made some official calls on government, handed over Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s new Jaguar to her, conducted exercises ashore and hosted an official ceremony to say thank you to the Cayman people.
The RFA Lyme Bay is an amphibious landing support ship, designed to deploy troops of Royal Marines onto beaches and coastlines. Its primary role is to deliver humanitarian assistance.
The ship’s shallow draft allows it to come further inshore than other ships of similar size, and once in position, it can deploy a flotilla of small craft from the internal dock. A flight deck allows day and night helicopter operations.
The ship contains a vehicle deck, container deck for troops, stores, vehicles and medical equipment to sustain and rebuild a stricken community. “We don’t need to be near a port to get the supplies off the ship to the people in case of a disaster,” said Captain Watts, Royal Fleet Auxiliary commanding officer of RFA Lyme Bay.
Captain Watts also shared information about the crew, the number of vehicles on board and the ship’s trip to Cayman, which was to exercise contingency plans and conduct reconnaissance by air and sea of potential landing sites and transport routes if the ship were to dispatch supplies and equipment in the event of a disaster.
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.
The RFA Lyme Bay left Cayman on Sunday. Its next stop is Anguilla.