RFA Argus, part of the Royal Navy’s Atlantic patrol Tasking (North) deployed to the Caribbean, will be in the Territory on April 17 to conduct a series of overflights of the British Virgin Islands.
Two helicopters, Merlin and Wildcat, are expected to be flying over Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke between 12:00 noon -2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. -4:30 p.m.
The purpose of the flights is to familiarise the crew with BVI’s topography and to identify possible landing sites that could be used to deliver relief during the upcoming hurricane season, should it be needed. It will also overfly the Territory’s maritime borders to support its efforts to keep them secure as they are closed due to the need to protect the Territory from the Coronavirus.
The helicopters will not land in the Territory and the ship’s crew will not disembark, in line with current COVID-19 border restrictions. RFA Argus will leave the Territory after conducting the flights and deploy to other Overseas Territories for similar preparatory activities but will remain in the region should support be needed.
RFA Argus was deployed to the Caribbean at the start of April. Its deployment was originally planned as part of the UK’s hurricane preparedness support but was brought forward to provide additional resilience to Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.
It carries hurricane-related supplies from the UK Government, such as water, ration packs, medical equipment and materials to repair damage and clear blocked roads, if any of the Overseas Territories is impacted by a hurricane.
Any support or response would be conducted in close cooperation with the Territory’s authorities.
The deployment of RFA Argus is just one way the UK Government is supporting the people of BVI and other Overseas Territories at this time. Other areas of support include:
- Sourcing and delivering medical equipment – so far, BVI has received approximately 1,900 test kits from the UK and another shipment, including personal protective equipment, is due to arrive next week.
- Supporting on diplomatic issues – this week, the Governor’s Office, in partnership with the US and the BVI Health Services Authority, helped secure the release of BVI medical supplies that were seized by US Custom and Border Protection. The shipment is due to arrive in the Territory shortly.
- Sharing expert medical advice – Public Health England are in regular contact with medical professionals here in BVI.