By Demion McTair. Updated 2:48 p.m., Tuesday, August 23, 2022, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
The British Royal Navy’s HMS Protector is currently docked at the Kingstown Criuse ship Terminal and the ship’s captain has some pleasant words for Vincentians.
The British naval vessel arrived here on Monday, August 22, 2022 and is set to depart on Thursday.
At a reception with government officials and the media on Monday, the ship’s Captain – Commanding Officer Milly Ingham told One News St. Vincent the ship is here during the Atlantic hurricane season to show some presence in the area and provide some humanitarian disaster relief, if requested.
Commanding Officer Ingham also said: “One of the main reasons we are here is that we have a lot of sailors from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. So, it is important to us to come and visit here to show the diaspora in the navy that St. Vincent is important to us.”
“These people are really important to us,” she said.
Commanding Officer Ingham said a Vincentian – officer Burke serves on the HMS Protector, and she praised the rapport with Vincentians.
“For me, it’s been a community that I’ve been involved with in the UK. I’ve felt very welcomed by them. I’ve learned about callaloo soup and red belly,” she said. Red belly is a popular cake in St. Vincent with coloured coconut filling.
Ingham, who has been in the navy for 23 years, said it has been a long-held ambition of hers to bring the ship to St. Vincent, stating that the ship is a similar community as reflected by the Vincentian people.
“It’s a similar community where family is very important, where you come together through music, through food, through community, so it’s always been quite a long-held ambition of mine to bring to the ship to St. Vincent. So, that’s why were are here today,” the Ingham said.
This is captain Ingham’s fourth command, and she is the first female commander of the HMS Protector. She has captained about four different ships, she said. She joined the navy at the age of 21.
The work of the ship
The ship is focused on the peak hurricane season as is part of the navy’s work to be in the area to provide any emergency assistance, if required.
The ship has been in the Caribbean for five weeks. It will be here in the Caribbean for another three weeks, Ingham said, before transitioning to the Antarctic region, at which time a sister ship from the British Royal Navy will come to the region to provide any emergency assistance during the hurricane, if required.
Commanding Officer Ingham said the ship has a selection of specialists on board.
She said they have come in and provided assistance where requested in the aftermath of previous hurricanes which struck the region in the past.
“In this season from June to November, there is always a British Royal Navy ship on standby,” and “ready to open up the routes for the others that are waiting in the UK to come and assist.”
She said: “This ship is designed to go to some of the most inhospitable places on Earth, like Antarctica. So it’s designed to go away over the horizon without communications for long periods of time almost like explorers 100-200 years ago”.
Lieutenant Nicolos Stevenson, the Media and Public Affairs Officer currently on the HMS Protector, but assigned to the Royal Navy’s Atlantic Patrol Tasking North said the Navy’s work to help the Caribbean be prepared includes hydrographic mapping and exploratory surveys of the coastlines “nd making sure that everybody is aware of what we can achieve.
He also said the navy’s work under the Atlantic Patrol Tasking North involves “going ashore and working with the communities that we go to visit and working with the governments that we go to visit to ensure that what they’ve got is as prepared as it possibly can be.”
The Royal Navy says that it is committed to maintaining a constant presence in the North Atlantic and Caribbean to protect the interests of the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories in the region.
North Atlantic Patrol Tasking is normally carried out by a single vessel from the Royal Navy or Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the Royal Navy says on its website.
The Navy also says:
Every year between June and November, the Caribbean and North Atlantic are struck by hurricane season – and part of our job is to assist with the disaster relief effort. For instance, the Dock Landing Ship RFA Mounts Bay and her team were instrumental in restoring vital services in the aftermath of storms Irma and Maria in 2017.
Drug trafficking is another major problem in this part of the world. The Royal Navy’s conspicuous presence in the region is part of the ongoing battle to deter drug-runners and prevent illegal substances from reaching UK shores.
Royal Navy ships also routinely conduct exercises with foreign navies in the region, helping to strengthen bonds with some of our closest allies, such as the Netherlands, France and the United States.