Moray soldiers stand ready for mercy mission
Kinloss Barracks: Soldiers ready to fly to Caribbean after Hurricane Irma
Moray soldiers stand ready to join massive Hurricane Irma relief efforts at just one hour’s notice.
Troops at Kinloss Barracks are poised to join the aid missions in the Caribbean to carry out urgent repairs to air fields.
The squadron had been on a two-hour notice for the last week but that has now been shortened to just 60 minutes.
Major Dafydd Howells, officer commanding 48 Field Squadron, said: “We literally need to be departing Kinloss within an hour of getting the call. all my vehicles are packed and ready to move.”
The standby position of the soldiers comes just weeks after other members of 39 Engineer regiment returned from a UN peacekeeping mission to South Sudan.
yesterday, the troops were presented with medals to celebrate their work, which protected charity workers in the war-torn country.
Moray soldiers were on standby last night to assist massive relief efforts in the Caribbean to help communities devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Troops based at Kinloss Barracks were poised to deploy to the Turks and Caicos Islands within just one hour of being notified.
About 40 members of 48 Field Squadron were ready to be sent on the aid mission, entitled Operation Ruman, to carry out urgent repairs to airfields on the British overseas territory.
The troops had been on a two-hour notice for the past week but that has now been shortened to just 60 minutes.
That means the men and women from 39 Engineer Regiment need to be constantly prepared to leave the Moray base and say goodbye to their families.
Major Dafydd Howells, officer commanding 48 Field Sqn, said: “We literally need to be departing Kinloss within an hour of getting the call. We are expected to move from here to wherever we need to get to to marry up with the aircraft that would deploy, it could be Brize Norton or Lossiemouth or wherever.
“That means all my vehicles are packed and ready to move. Our priority is to get essential supplies out to the area affected.”
The squadron is ordinarily on a 48-hour notice throughout the year to move to any location in the world.
Troops were enjoying a well-earned four-day break last weekend but rushed back from leave when they were placed on two hours’ alert. Yesterday, Major Howells praised those under his command for returning to Kinloss so quickly.
Winds as strong as 175mph were recorded in the Turks and Caicos Islands as the territory was pummelled by the hurricane.
The local government declared a national shutdown after homes and businesses were destroyed by the storm.
If deployed to the islands, the troops of 48 Field Sqn will be tasked with ensuring aid can land at airports.
A plane-load of specialist electrical equipment and tool boxes to fix underground cables and lights is ready to be shipped to the Caribbean.
Major Howells added: “Our role would be to repair the aircraft operating surfaces – that could be the main runway, any taxiways or technical areas where servicing takes place.
“We could also be looking at accommodation, including putting roofs back or returning hygienic running water. We have trades people who can deliver those sorts of things.
“Our present understanding is that we would be going to the Turks and Caicos Islands because the airfields on the British Virgin Islands don’t appear to be as significantly damaged as first reported.
“At the moment I would be taking about 40 people with me – but the situation is being constantly surveyed and if specific capabilities are needed then I might change that to provide more assistance.”
More than 100 prisoners have been captured after escaping from a jail on the British Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma.
The governor of the islands said the prisoners of Balsam Ghut prison, in Tortola, had been captured on Thursday.
It followed an operation by British Virgin Island and Cayman Island police officers, alongside the British Royal Marines and police.
Gus Jaspert, the governor of the British Virgin Islands, said: “The government of the British Virgin Islands is extremely grateful to the police and military personnel for their tireless efforts, which have resulted in a thorough and extremely successful operation.
“I extend our gratitude to the UK and Cayman Island governments for their provision of personnel. This signals a huge step in all of our efforts to rebuild this fantastic territory.”
The news comes after British Virgin Islanders said they were “terrified” of the prisoners, who escaped because of the damage caused by Irma.
They said looting had been “terrible” and claimed escaped prisoners had committed a rape while on the loose.
Foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan said on Tuesday that the convicts posed a “serious threat of the complete breakdown of law and order”.
HONOURED: 34 Field Squadron at Kinloss Barracks, Forres, after returning from South Sudan.
JOINING FORCES: Lieutenant Colonel Grenville Shaw Johnston hands out medals at Kinloss Barracks yesterday.
Major Wayne Meek hands medals to 34 Field Squadron back from South Sudan
Engineers from 24 Commando Royal Engineers carry out repairs yesterday to make Balsam Ghut jail secure