British Royal Navy ships deployed in Honduras to assist disaster relief efforts after tropical storm

According to information published on November 13, 2020, the British Royal Navy is responding to a request to assist disaster relief efforts in Honduras after Tropical Storm Eta swept through the Central American nation. RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Argus has been in the Caribbean since April ready to assist British Overseas Territories and communities in the region in the event of a storm hitting.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 RFA Argus is deployed in a British Royal Navy task group with HMS Medway. (Picture source British navy)

The support ship is now off Honduras’ northeast coast to support ongoing aid operations led by the United States. Argus’ spacious flight deck will be used as a ‘lily pad’ by US military aircraft to sustain relief missions, while the ship’s Merlin and Wildcat helicopters will be prepared to carry out surveys of the damage and fly aid to isolated areas if required.

Eta weakened from a category four storm to a tropical storm as it hit Honduras after it devastated Nicaragua. Despite that, the brutal storm left a trail of destruction and millions of Hondurans displaced, areas flooded, and homes destroyed.

The support ship is well equipped to deal with crises such as these, with her versatile crew of sailors, commandos, pilots, aircrew, soldiers, and engineers trained to deliver disaster relief at a moment’s notice.

Alongside HMS Medway, who remains on task, Argus has been at the center of a Royal Navy task group in the Caribbean, which is there for hurricane season but also to carry out counter-narcotics operations. HMS Medway is a Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel fin service with the Royal British Navy.

RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Argus is a ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary operated by the Ministry of Defence under the Blue Ensign. Italian-built, Argus was formerly the container ship MV Contender Bezant. She carries an air group of helicopters and personnel from 845, 815 and 1700 Naval Air Squadron. Three Commando Merlin helicopters and a Wildcat can carry out surveillance to help the US conduct search and rescue, and they might be used to deliver aid to devastated areas.

There is no move to put personnel ashore, but also embarked are Royal Marines of 47 Commando and a Crisis Response Troop from 24 Commando Royal Engineers who have trained this year in British Overseas Territories to repair damaged infrastructure, deliver aid and make-safe routes ashore. They may be called on to advise US operations.