Fit sailors from HMS Ocean have taken part in a charity ten-kilometre race in Miami following their hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean.
HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, has been alongside the port of Miami for a brief visit following provision of disaster relief to British Overseas Territories after destruction by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The port visit into Miami allowed the ship to re-store food and take on fuel.
The stop enabled 20 members of the ship’s company to race the 10k Beach Run, an annual event held in the sweltering heat (32C) and humidity of Miami’s Lummus Park and South Beach.
The event raises funds for the McLamore Foundation, which to date has raised over $32 million to assist over 30,000 underprivileged students across North America and Puerto Rico.
Six of the ship’s runners finished in the top 25 – out of 337. The top ship’s runner was Warrant Officer Alan Fuller with an impressive fifth place in 41:43 min , closely followed by Chief Petty Officer Douglas Veitch in 12th, Chief Petty Officer Christian Bisgrove in 13th, Chief Petty Officer Dale Johnson 22nd, Chief Petty Officer Shawn Challen, 24th, and Sub Lieutenant Hamish Cooper 25th.
Alan said: “It was great to be able to get some rest alongside Miami following our tasking in the Caribbean We thoroughly enjoyed the ten kilometre run. The ship’s company put in a really good showing, despite the heat and humidity.’’
The Commanding Officer of HMS Ocean, Captain Robert Pedre, said: “It has been a timely visit to Miami for my ship’s company following their stalwart efforts to assist the people of the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This visit has been necessary to embark fuel and stores and afforded a short break before returning to other operations.”
HMS Ocean’s contribution to the overall Department for International Development (DfID) led UK relief operation in the Caribbean has been significant. The ship’s helicopters proved particularly invaluable in a region where roads and bridges have often been destroyed; with Merlin and Wildcat helicopters from 845, and 847 Naval Air Squadrons alongside Chinooks from 18 Squadron RAF embarked. HMS Ocean steamed over 11,000 miles, conducted 253 hours of flying including 81 separate trips and moved more than 1,000 people by air. 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines conducted almost 200 landing craft launches and recoveries landing 600 people and stores across 17 isolated locations. In total, Ocean delivered 8,300 man hours of engineering and logistical support enabling the recovery of critical national infrastructure alongside large scale clean-up operations across four separate island chains. HMS Ocean also evacuated 39 vulnerable British nationals from Dominica, one of whom was very seriously ill and received life-saving treatment on board.
HMS Ocean’s short notice deployment to the Caribbean has been a demonstration of the UK Government’s significant and ongoing commitment to ensure the stability and safety of the British Overseas Territories and their inhabitants alongside other countries who requested and were granted UK assistance. At its peak, there were over 2,000 UK military personnel deployed including RFA Mounts Bay, which was pre-positioned to the region in preparation for the Hurricane season.