Royal Navy Merlin and Wildcat helicopters fly crucial recon missions alongside US forces in Honduras as part of relief operation after devastating hurricanes Eta and Iota left millions homeless
Royal Navy helicopters have been flying reconnaissance missions over Honduras to support the US military which is dropping vital aid to the country which has been devastated by hurricanes Eta and Iota.
Three Merlin helicopters and a Wildcat from 845 and 815 Naval Air Squadrons have been flying over area of the Central American country which have been devastated by two hurricanes within a fortnight.
The helicopters are flying from RFA Argus – which itself is providing support to US Army Chinooks – who are using the Royal Navy vessel as a ‘lily pad’ to drop tonnes of aid to those needing it in the disaster zone.
RFA Argus, pictured off the coast of Honduras recovering a Merlin Helicopter from 845 Naval Air Squadron is providing assistance to the US army who are dropping aid to areas devastated by two recent hurricanes
US Army Chinooks, pictured, are using Argus as a ‘Lilypad’ to refuel during missions to drop tonnes of aid to badly hit areas of the Central American country
The Royal Navy Merlin and Wildcat helicopters have been flying damage surveys over Honduras looking for regions that require aid relief
The massive US helicopters refuel on RFA Argus – allowing them to extend the range which they can patrol.
The Royal Navy helicopters are equipped with powerful sensors which allow them provide vital information to their US colleagues about where the life saving supplies are most needed.
The Chinooks are attached to the US Southern Command.
According to Commander Kate Muir, who is in command of the UK Task Group in the Caribbean: ‘RFA Argus and embarked Royal Navy personnel are supporting US helicopters and conducting aerial surveys of hurricane damage.
‘This allows prioritisation of emergency relief stores to the areas that need it most, usually remote areas that have been cut off by flooding and landslides.
‘The information we are providing is proving essential to relief operations, and they are critical to responding quickly to help the people of Honduras.
The Merlin, pictured, and WIldcat helicopters have a range of advanced sensors which can map places that require assistance
Argus has been in the Caribbean since April to provide support to British Overseas Territories
Commanding Officer of RFA Argus, Captain Kevin Rimell, added: ‘We’ve been asked to provide a refueling facility for the US heavy-lift helicopters.
‘The CH47 Chinooks have a huge lift capacity and a long endurance, but they need lots of fuel from us which lets them move around the region and move the much-needed supplies to those areas that are in desperate need.
‘We are able to provide them this support as they don’t have those facilities in the region themselves.’
Royal Marine Commandos based on board RFA Argus have being using special software on a tablet called Disaster Relief Operation Position Logger – DROP Logger’.
Commando engineers onboard the helicopters are able to map the area below them and pass this information to their colleagues to quickly send aid to the areas in most need.
According to the Royal Navy, Argus has been in the Caribbean since April with HMS Medway. Medway has been involved in several counter-narcotics operations in the region.
By refuelling onboard Argus, the US Army Chinooks have a far longer range over Honduras
Royal Marine Commandos onboard the Navy helicopters use special software to map the disaster zone