British naval ship gets high praise for Dominica aid

A support boat being loaded on the Lyme Bay. Photo by Phill Corner
A support boat being loaded on the Lyme Bay. Photo by Phill Corner

Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Lyme Bay is approaching the final phase of her tasking to assist Dominica following Tropical Storm Erika.

The ship, which is stationed in the Caribbean and as part of its primary tasking acts as a first responder in the event of a disaster in the region, was rerouted to assist humanitarian relief efforts in Dominica on 31 August 2015.

It brought a range of disaster relief stores including bedding, shelter, torches and stretchers, as well as a Lynx Mk 8 helicopter and considerable supplies of fresh water.

The British naval vessel has spent six days stationed off Dominica and has achieved much following her short-notice rerouting to the island.

The multinational relief mission has included aid from US, Venezuelan and British military ships and the effort continues with the recent arrival of the Dutch ship Pelikaan to ensure unbroken support to the island.

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “In the wake of the devastation caused in Dominica by Tropical Storm Erika the crew of RFA Lyme Bay has been able to provide vital and immediate aid in support of local communities on the island. This is exactly the role that the ship and its helicopter is deployed to undertake in the region and it is right that Britain supported Dominica when needed. The men and women onboard can be very proud of their efforts, helping the people of the island to rebuild their lives and return to normality.”

The British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Victoria Dean, summed up RFA Lyme Bay’s hard work: “I was so sorry, as was everyone in the UK, to see the devastation that Tropical Storm Erika had on Dominica. In a few short hours, we saw just how vulnerable we all are to the effects of climate change. I am so pleased, therefore, that RFA Lyme Bay has made such a significant contribution to dealing with the worst of the storm’s aftermath. The ship’s crew has made a real difference to this very special island and to its people. I am very grateful – and very proud – of all that they have achieved.”

Lyme Bay has a diverse team onboard made up from Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Navy, Royal Marines plus Army engineers and logistic personnel.

Everyone onboard has played their part in helping the islanders to begin to rebuild their lives.

The Commanding Officer of RFA Lyme Bay, Captain Paul Minter (RFA), explained: “I am very proud of my team which has been actively involved over the last week, both onboard and ashore, providing humanitarian and disaster relief to the island of Dominica after the devastating effects of Tropical Storm ERIKA. I am delighted that we have been able to make a difference to some of the communities affected by the storm. Our teams ashore have been successful in digging out vehicles, and clearing the school, church and communal washing facilities in the village of Coulibistri which was deluged by mudslides. We have also produced and distributed over 6000 hot meals and vital stores to outlying communities.”

In addition to the immediate support offered to the communities of Coulibistri, Colihaut, Dublanc and Bioche the ship’s Royal Navy Lynx helicopter has flown multiple missions across the island to deliver supplies, conduct surveys and evacuate a medical patient. Over 25 resupply flights moved approx two tons of stores per day to cut-off communities and allowed disaster managers and civil engineers to plan the continued recovery programme long after RFA Lyme Bay has departed.

Lt Max Cosby RN, one of the Lynx aircrew, commented: “It was impressive to see how much had been done to clear roads and open up access to the communities in the time we have spent on Dominica. Although there are recovery projects which will take many months to complete, the island’s disaster relief managers were clearly able to use the first-response assets of Lyme Bay to make a difference.”

A similar improvement was noted by the Officer Commanding HADR Troop, Captain Chris Swanwick (Royal Engineers), who said: “We have been able to achieve a lot over the past six days to help the local communities, clearing roads and buildings, many of which have been buried under several feet of mud, to make them accessible to residents. We have been making regular water drops to several nearby communities and have delivered over 20 tonnes of drinking water. The team under my command has worked alongside personnel from the RFA, US Coastguard and local authorities. Everyone involved has been exceptionally enthusiastic about the support we are providing in this tasking.”

RFA Lyme Bay has now departed Dominica for Barbados and is now re-storing and preparing for further tasking in what is the most risky period for hurricanes in the region.

Here are some facts and figures about the ship while in Dominica:
• 24.5 hours flown by the embarked Lynx Mk8 helicopter in the first five days.
• 2 tonnes of food and water stores delivered by helicopter to remote settlements per day.
• Over 20 tonnes drinking water from the fresh water tanks on RFA Lyme Bay, delivered to local communities over five days.
• 1515 cases or 36,360 bottles of drinking water delivered ashore.
• Over 6250 hot meals prepared by the RFA Lyme Bay galley and delivered to local communities in five days.
• Over 5.3 tonnes of food supplies including pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit and vegetables landed ashore.
• 130 tonnes: the amount of drinking water RFA Lyme Bay can generate each day with her reverse osmosis plants operating at full capacity.
• 1546 m3: the fresh water storage capacity in the tanks onboard RFA Lyme Bay.

See photos below on Lyme Bay’s mission. All photos by Phill Corner.

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  1. September 11, 2015

    Thanks to You, dear Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ! Amen!

  2. udohreadyet
    September 10, 2015


  3. September 10, 2015

    fantastic job guys. thank you very much for the assistance,

  4. Caretaker
    September 10, 2015

    THEY see you as an English speaking country and you deserved the best. you try to visit their country and it will change your life for the better.Hey! don’t forget we are all together on this

  5. hm!
    September 10, 2015


  6. James A. Evans
    September 10, 2015

    I believe that the guys that are trained to follow Skerrit all over should have been assigned to the British group so that they could be trained the the disaster area. That would be a Great thing. We need a group like this. aWe need thid right now. I hope the group the Prime Minister put together make this suggestion to the Prime Minister. Dominica Needs This.

  7. cola
    September 10, 2015

    Thank you for your help and support. God save the Queen.

  8. September 10, 2015

    wow. words can not express the way i am feeling by reading this and looking at the photos. tears are running down my face. i just want to say a very big thank you to the British. for giving us their self in such a real and profound manner. thank you very much and may the good Lord continue to see you all through.

    September 10, 2015

    A great and wonderful job by the crew of the Lyme Bay. Thank you, stay safe, Britannia rule the waves

  10. Dominican to bone
    September 9, 2015

    thanks Brits much appreciated

  11. sandra
    September 9, 2015

    Thank you to the British Government and the RFA LYME staff. God bless you

  12. The Real Facts
    September 9, 2015

    Thank you to the Brits. What an excellent job you have performed in Dominica. You guys really worked hard and tirelessly. Bet you needed a good rest. :lol:
    We note how enthusiastic you were to assist Dominicans in their time of need. Sorry you had to leave but life has to go on. You have done much for Dominica.
    God bless you! As He noted your effort, He has already blest you and will continue to do so.
    The good that people do with cheerful hearts and spirit, going that second mile, is written in the Book of Life, never to be erased.
    Thank you Lord for their presence and helpfulness. Watch over them and protect them as they continue to perform additional humanitarian works where necessary.

    September 9, 2015

    In World Wars I and II Dominicans, as British subjects, rushed to the aid of what they were taught was the mother country – Britain. Many Dominicans sacrificed their lives in the cause of freedom – see here After Hurricane David In 1979, the Royal Navy came to Dominica’s aid via HMS Fife – the first ship to the rescue. Today, the crew who came aboard the Royal Navy vessel Lyme Bay are in accord with that noble tradition of serving those in need. Where we are true to history, the work of the Royal Navy crew consolidates a friendship forged in a heritage of mutual sacrifice. The Royal Navy is serving Dominica at its time of need, as our people served Britain at its darkest hour. More Dominicans need to stop gazing at our helpers and take up a spade! A warm salute is due to the crew and all who serve – Dominican, British, Venezuelan, Cuban, allied Caribbean states and other friends.

  14. September 9, 2015

    Thank God we are friendly people in times of disaster with have people for us. God is doing good things in our lives. so we need to give him all the praise for what he is doing for us and he is also teaching us a lesson.

  15. Caretaker
    September 9, 2015

    Erika! you may now put your boom-boom inside. You have given us a brand new Dominica. Read them comments ,sweet and short. brilliant

    • The Real Facts
      September 9, 2015

      I thought of the song and wondered, no one mentioned it. I suppose someone would do so sooner or later. You did. :lol:
      I know two of them whose names are spelt with the ‘c’ – Erica.
      These days Americans spell it with a ‘k’

  16. qstorm78
    September 9, 2015

    Thank you.!!

  17. Danziger
    September 9, 2015

    To the members of the British naval, my most sincere thanks for the support you gave us in our time of need thankyou.

  18. Shay
    September 9, 2015

    THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all your help. God bless and continue doing what you do.

  19. unknown767
    September 9, 2015

    wow…. they’re doing a great work! God bless you guys… much love.

  20. September 9, 2015

    Thank you! Thank you! for you assistance, we are eternally greatful to all of you. God blees you all and your families for this timely efforts. We shall never forget!!

  21. GMVL
    September 9, 2015

    As a Brit who had the good fortune of experiencing life in Dominica, it’s a delight to see the humanitarian side of my homeland: it is what puts the “Great!” back into Great Britain. Thank you for the back-breaking work you have done there that will go some way in helping Dominica rebuild. It will take a lot more to rebuild but I hope Dominicans will always be grateful for your assistance in their hour of need.

    If the devastation wrought by this TROPICAL STORM is indeed a sign of things to come, I hope small island developing states like Dominica will be able to tap into those resources–technical and otherwise–that will help them to draw up comprehensive plans to examine and implement the infrastructural and other changes that will fast become vital for protecting life and property.

    • The Real Facts
      September 9, 2015

      Life is a growing and learning process. Let us hope some more good will come out of this. Experience is a good teacher.
      The Brits have done an excellent job. They are to be highly commended and they are.

  22. grell
    September 9, 2015

    Great job dno,and as a former soldier on many missions like this one,thanks to the british soldiers.Continue the relief over the world.

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