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RFA Mounts Bay to Support Montserrat’s Post Disaster Recovery, Comms Still an Issue

Major Alvin Ryan, Director of the DMCA, Captain MacAnley, Commanding Officer of the RFA Mounts Bay and Governor Andy Pearce.

Commanding Officer of the Royal Fleet Auxilary ship Mounts Bay said he and his crew are ready to support Montserrat and all of the British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean in case of disaster.

Captain Jeremy A. MacAnley made the statement during Tuesday morning’s press conference aboard the RFA Mounts Bay, which has been in port since Monday. He shared that while they have not conducted any disaster simulation exercises on island, they have done so in two other territories. He added, that Montserrat was more ready to handle an emergency than some of the other islands.

Governor Andy Pearce expressed his gratitude for the ships support and acknowledged the role it played in 2018 on the heels of Hurricane Isaac passing near the island. That same commitment, he said is there for this hurricane season and the vessel will remain in the area to support any of the BOTs which may be in need of assistance immediately following a hurricane.

Governor Pearce said the island had improved its readiness in terms of the availability of supplies such as collapsible water tanks, cots and other emergency items which are stockpiled at the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA). He said the one area of concern is the communication systems on island. The governor said he has expressed to the British government that this is a  top priority. Radio communications across all institutions need to be linked, he explained. While they have completed the upgrades at Silver Hills in the North of the island, much work is still needed at the repeater site at Garibaldi Hill in the South.

Major Alvin Ryan, Director of the DMCA said RFA Mounts Bay represents the extra manpower and resources the island needs to bolster its capacity. As the captain and some of the crew are new to the island the visit was important in order that they could learn more about each other and what was necessary for them to work together seamlessly. On Tuesday, officials conducted a tabletop exercise at the DMCA.

The director agreed that communications was a challenge but that they were working on it. They have identified what equipment is needed and until a more holistic solution is found, Ryan is encouraging departments with the funds to buy handhelds, which can be connected to the current system.

The RFA Mounts Bay helicopter has also been assisting the Montserrat Volcano Observatory with some of its work while on island. The ship is scheduled to leave port on Wednesday.

Watch the press conference from the RFA Mounts Bay here…