The Royal Navy ship RFA Argus arrived in Grand Cayman around 10am Monday, mooring far offshore, in front of the George Town area.
Governor Martyn Roper addressed the ship’s arrival at the daily COVID-19 briefing on Monday, saying, “The Royal Navy Caribbean task force ship is not going to be landing on our island with the helicopter, and the crew will not be coming ashore as they have in previous years because of COVID-19.”
RFA Argus, together with another ship, the HMS Medway, have been deployed to the Caribbean for hurricane season where they stand ready to assist if any island needs assistance in the aftermath of a storm.
Usually, the crew of the ships would disembark and conduct mock hurricane exercises, using their equipment onboard.
However, due to the COVID-19 risk and local protocols, those exercises have been cancelled.
Instead, the governor said, two helicopters from the RFA Argus will conduct a flyover alongside an RCIPS helicopter on Tuesday morning, and carry out a reconnaissance exercise of Grand Cayman. Earlier, it had been announced that those exercises would take place Monday.
“They are looking for a key areas and landing sites in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season. They will also be conducting a drug interdiction exercise with the RCIPS marine unit and, on Tuesday afternoon, they plan to conduct an over-flight of Cayman Brac,” the governor said.
The 574-foot-long Argus is described as a ‘Primary Casualty Receiving Ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’, by the Royal Navy website. On board, it has a 100-bed medical complex, and acts as a floating hospital during times of crisis or war.
UK security team
Meanwhile, Roper said he had had a virtual briefing with the UK security team who are currently isolating at the government quarantine facility. The security team, consisting of UK military and civilian personnel, arrived last Tuesday on board a British Airways flight.
The governor said another meeting is planned for Tuesday.
“They’re spending their time very usefully doing the Zoom meetings and meeting people across all different areas via Zoom and virtually, so that they can be briefed on the situation. We will be say more about what they will be doing as they get more into that,” he added.