On March 20th, the Acting Governor, Anya Williams, and Commissioner of Police, James Smith, met with the Commanding Officer of RFA Mounts Bay, Captain David Buck, and crew to discuss operations on how to best to assist TCI Police and Immigration authorities in boosting both maritime and aerial surveillance following the recent increase in the number of illegal sloop arrivals from Haiti.
In officially welcoming RFA Mounts Bay to the Turks and Caicos Islands, Acting Governor Williams said, “We are grateful to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and other agencies for swiftly deploying support to the Turks and Caicos Islands and to RFA Mounts Bay for coming to TCI at such short notice. The Royal Navy ship will be providing much needed support. At the time of our request, RFA Mounts Bay was deployed on other operational duties. The shift in deployment has altered several of the ship’s operational plans and has also come at significant costs, but for this we are grateful”.
Acting Governor Williams added, “RFA Mounts Bay will work very closely with the Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Maritime vessels, Sea Defender, Sea Guardian and Sea Justice, to ensure that our borders are protected and that our waters are significantly patrolled. This will be supplemented by aerial helicopter support as well while we focus on internal Operation Guardian efforts”.
RFA Mounts Bay was redeployed from her regular tasking to the Turks and Caicos Islands TCI waters on March 19th. Commanding Officer Captain David Buck confirmed that the ship immediately established maritime security operations on arrival in TCI.
Captain Buck said, “The Ship is delighted to be here to assist and we’ve met for an operational brief and are looking forward to supporting the islands”.
Commenting on the arrival of RFA Mounts Bay in TCI, Commissioner of Police, James Smith, said, “We are happy to be working with Captain Buck and crew. RFA Mounts Bay will provide us with valuable support enabling us to combine assets to boost patrols and combat the increase of illegal sloops coming to the Turks and Caicos Islands”.
RFA Mounts Bay was launched in April 2004 and accepted into service in July 2006 and is currently on a deployment to the North Atlantic, performing patrol duties after taking over from RFA Wave Knight in 2017.
RFA Mounts Bay is not new to the Turks and Caicos Islands waters; the ship provided Hurricane relief and support following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in October 2017.