Coronavirus

COVID: Navy And RAF Deliver Vaccines To World's Most Remote Overseas Territory

The 10,000-mile journey to deliver the vaccines from the UK to Tristan da Cunha took six days.

British military personnel have transported coronavirus vaccines to Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world.

For the first time, the Royal Navy assisted the RAF and Strategic Command in a six-day operation to the isolated island in the South Atlantic.

The British Overseas Territory has had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has a population of just over 200.

A remote volcanic island, Tristan da Cunha's nearest neighbour is more than 1,500 miles away.

In the first leg of the journey, an RAF Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton travelled 8,000 miles to the Falkland Islands, stopping to refuel in Dakar, Senegal, before handing over to HMS Forth for the 2,000-mile voyage by sea to the island.

The combined forces operation delivered enough Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to cover the entire adult population.

The RAF Voyager delivered the vaccines to the Falklands where they were then loaded onto HMS Forth (Picture: MOD).

The delivery was a huge logistical challenge due to its location and the fact the vaccines need to be stored between 2C and 8C.

To keep the jabs cool, HMS Forth used specialised fridges with crew members checking the temperatures regularly.

This is the first time the Royal Navy has assisted with the transportation of vaccines.

Sailors helped get the doses on board HMS Forth within 90 minutes of the RAF Voyager touching down in the Falklands.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: "This operation to transport vaccines to one of the most remote parts of the world reaffirms our commitment to the people of our Overseas Territories.

"I am immensely proud of all Royal Navy and RAF personnel involved in this mission and the role they have played in helping to deliver vaccines to the people of Tristan da Cunha safely and quickly."

The vaccines are unloaded from HMS Forth to be delivered to Tristan da Cunha (Picture: MOD).

Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI), Commodore Jonathan Lett, said: "The entire operation has been a great team effort from start to finish.

"I am hugely proud of every member of the BFSAI team involved in all elements of this epic journey."

The vaccines were delivered on behalf of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Crown Agents - a not-for-profit international development company.

Earlier this year, the RAF transported vaccines to Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and Ascension Island in support of the FCDO's vaccine rollout to the Overseas Territories.

HMS Forth is currently deployed in the South Atlantic and has been patrolling Overseas Territories throughout the last month.

Tristan da Cunha has a long-standing connection with the UK Armed Forces dating back to the Second World War when the whole island was commissioned by the Royal Navy as a U-boat monitoring outpost and a signals intelligence station.

Cover image: HMS Forth delivering the vaccines to Tristan da Cunha (Picture: MOD).