The British naval support ship RFA Wave Knight received visitors from Grand Cayman for a business luncheon and evening reception Thursday, kicking off a four-day visit to the island.
The fast fleet tanker is part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary that serves British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, providing disaster relief and deterring regional drug smuggling.
Commanding Officer Nigel Budd said the tanker has been on rotation in the region since July. The 31,500 ton ship has been in service in 2003 and has the ability to refuel other naval vessels.
“We take it in turns. The ship before here was a smaller patrol boat. Sometimes we have a frigate. The successor ship will be a landing ship and the primary role of the ship is for hurricane disaster relief for the overseas territories,” he said during an evening reception aboard the ship.
The ship provided disaster relief to Nassau and the Bahamas following Hurricane Matthew in October. In 2008, Captain Budd served on an identical sister ship, the Wave Ruler, which provided hurricane relief to Cayman Brac.
“We are quite a fast ship and we can arrive very quickly after the storm passes through, normally the next day,” he said.
“We were there [in Cayman Brac] as the sun came out the next day, and came in with blankets and fresh water.”
The ship stores essential disaster relief supplies, including fresh water, power generators and temporary shelter supplies like tents.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said the government has learned from past disaster relief efforts and feels prepared for future storms.
“They have been very vital for us in terms of being here for us after a hurricane. The last time there was a hurricane here, the ship was here immediately. It did not have all of the supplies we needed, so lessons have been learned and now they have sufficient supplies,” Mr. Manderson said.
“We’re really happy they are here and we always respect our people who risk their lives on our behalf.”
Captain Budd said the RFA Wave Knight successfully intercepted a large drug shipment in October, resulting in the confiscation of more than US$40 million worth of cocaine.
In November, the ship received Prince Harry and his entourage.