Navy

How RFA Argus Is Assisting Honduras After Devastating Storms

The vessel is working alongside US military aircraft to support relief missions in the country.

Forces News has spoken to the commanding officer of RFA Argus as the ship assists with relief efforts in Honduras after Storm Eta.

The vessel, which is deployed to the Caribbean region as part of a Royal Navy task group to support British Overseas Territories during the hurricane season, was sent to the Central American country last week after it made an appeal for support.

Storm Eta hit neighbouring Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane two weeks ago and was downgraded to a weakened tropical depression as it approached Honduras.

Hurricane Iota has since hit the Honduras-Nicaragua border, causing more flooding.

Captain Kevin Rimell, Commanding Officer of RFA Argus, told Forces News: "Once it became apparent that these devastating hurricanes were going to hit the coast of Central America, we’d been alert and ready and conducting preparations internally just in case our assistance was required to help the inhabitants of these countries and clearly the size of these hurricanes has necessitated that.

"Because of the type of ship we are, we’ve got a big flight deck, we’ve been asked to provide refuelling facilities for their [the US'] heavy-lift helicopters.

"There are four embarked on Argus and they are being utilised to fly over the region to conduct reconnaissance to see what the state of play is in the region following Hurricane Iota.

"That is our main effort at the moment from our organic aircraft and we are standing by ready to support the Americans in refuelling their heavy lift once they require it."

Speaking on Wednesday, Commander of the UK's Task Group in the Caribbean, Commander Kate Muir, told Forces News aircraft had been sent to assess the damage caused by Iota.

Cdr Muir said: "They’re having a look at the areas that they baselined a few days ago to understand the extent of the damage there. 

"They also understand very clearly what normal looked like a few days ago and where the changes have occurred."

She added: "It's quite a remote area so they were very worried about it and there also appeared to be very limited mobile phone activity there which was quite unusual, so it looks like the cell networks in the area might be down.

"Because it is low lying, the housing in the area all appears to be built on stilts, so they’re used to flooding, they’re used to storm surges and that has definitely helped them in some ways."

Earlier, the Nicaragua vice president and first lady raised the nation’s death toll from Hurricane Iota to 16.

The hurricane season officially ends on 30 November.

British troops deployed to Belize have also assisted with relief efforts there after the country was hit by Storm Eta.