The Royal Navy warship HMS Manchester arrived on Monday for a four-day visit as part of its mission to support the United Kingdom overseas territories during the hurricane season.
The ship left the UK on May 24 and has been in the Caribbean since June 13, according to the captain, Commander Rex Cox.
In case of any natural disasters or other threats to the OTs, the ship will be ready to help, Capt. Cox explained. The vessel’s crew also helps apprehend drug smugglers at sea.
Shortly after the ship’s arrival, the crew welcomed members of the media. At the top of a ramp to the main deck, officers in uniform greeted reporters. Meanwhile, sailors outfitted in blue overalls were moving about the ship working, and a few others wore camouflaged uniforms and carried guns.
Lieutenant Tom Johnson, a boarding officer, led the reporters up two decks to the captain’s bridge, where Capt. Cox was waiting.
The ship’s main goal in being here is “primarily to come and visit the islands and get to know the people and give them a chance to know us,” Capt. Cox said.
Sailors were also scheduled to participate in friendly sports games with residents, the captain explained.
Meanwhile, the captain and other officers were scheduled to meet with the Department of Disaster Management, marine police, and other departments that deal with disaster response, in order to discuss emergency and disaster relief plans and procedures.
The HMS Manchester is one of five ships of its kind in the world, Capt. Cox explained. There are seven decks on board the vessel, which carries enough missiles to protect itself in case of a threat.
On Monday, two fake red missiles often used for ceremonial purposes were mounted facing the shore under a tent set up for a reception.
Manchester is an air defence destroyer with 280 people on board. It has been a part of several assignments that have led to the capture of drug smugglers around the region.
During this stint at sea, the ship will visit the Caribbean OTs and review disaster management plans, according to Capt. Cox.
He added that being the captain of a ship is the best job in the world. However, it comes with the challenges of managing all the sailors on board and making difficult decisions, he said.
After the captain met with the media, Lieutenant Johnson led a tour, which ended at a hangar containing a helicopter.
The aircraft can travel 300 miles ahead of the ship, and is often used to chase drug smugglers, according to Lieutenant Johnson. Two speedboats on board also help with such chases, the boarding officer said.
The Manchester has United States and UK law enforcement officers on board, as well as a medical team, he explained.
After the media tour, Governor David Pearey and Premier Ralph O’Neal met with the captain, and a reception was held later in the evening.