North Devon troops clean up after a second ‘once in a lifetime’ Caribbean hurricane

Members of the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) team from RFA Mounts Bay, aid assistance to i

Members of the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) team from RFA Mounts Bay, aid assistance to islanders after Hurricane Dorian struck. Picture: MOD/Paul Halliwell - Credit: UK Ministry of Defence 2019

A North Devon Royal Navy officer has been dealing with the devastation of his second ‘once in a lifetime’ hurricane in two years.

Chief Officer James Wingrove from Langtree has been helping the Caribbean relief effort. Picture: Ro

Chief Officer James Wingrove from Langtree has been helping the Caribbean relief effort. Picture: Royal Navy/Paul Halliwell - Credit: Royal Navy

Chief Officer James Wingrove from Langtree has been overseeing the delivery of emergency supplies to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas in the wake of the category five Hurricane Dorian that ripped through the region leaving destruction behind it.

Mr Wingrove, aged 46, is the executive officer (second in command) of the ship RFA Mounts Bay, which also has a number of RMB Chivenor personnel on board from 24 Commando Regiment for the relief effort, codenamed Operation Baritone.

Incredibly, Mr Wingrove was also involved in the emergency relief efforts of 2017 when Hurricane Irma hit the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Turcs and Caicos Islands, and Dominica.

At the time, Irma was described as a 'once in a lifetime event'.

Islanders of Great Abaco in the Bahamas are picking up the pieces after Hurricane Dorian. Picture: M

Islanders of Great Abaco in the Bahamas are picking up the pieces after Hurricane Dorian. Picture: MOD - Credit: UK Ministry of Defence 2019

Hurricane Dorian hit the Caribbean in early September and winds speeds of up to 185mph were recorded.


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As the XO on board RFA Mounts Bay, Mr Wingrove is the second in command and his main role is to oversee the running of the ship on behalf of the commanding officer.

When asked about the relief effort in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, he said: "Everyone pulled together and worked through very long days.

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"It was humbling to see just how much people did, with some pushing themselves almost to exhaustion to get aid ashore and help the people who had been affected by the hurricane."

Personnel from RFA Mounts Bay delivering aid to the Island of Great Abaco in the Bahamas. Picture: R

Personnel from RFA Mounts Bay delivering aid to the Island of Great Abaco in the Bahamas. Picture: Royal Navy/Paul Halliwell - Credit: Royal Navy

RFA Mounts Bay was in the Bahamas for 10 days, and delivered much-needed aid to 7,700 people in nine communities spread across seven islands.

The aid delivered included 60 tons of drinking water, more than 2,000 24-hour ration packs, and more than 2,000 litres of diesel fuel for generators.

Describing the amount of supplies that were given to the people in the affected areas, Mr Wingrove said: "The most intense period was a four-day stretch where we pretty much emptied the ship of stores and supplies."

RFA Mounts Bay has now been fully re-stocked and is ready to head back out into the Caribbean to take up position as the UK Government's commitment to the area in case of further natural disasters such as Hurricane Dorian.

RFA Mounts Bay personnel working alongside the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. Picture: MOD/Paul Halliw

RFA Mounts Bay personnel working alongside the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. Picture: MOD/Paul Halliwell - Credit: UK Ministry of Defence 2019

Mr Wingrove lives in Langtree with his wife Deborah and their three children Elizabeth, William and Matthew.

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