Thursday, 19 June 2008

RFA Wave Ruler

Well, the island has been agog to see British Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors on the island recently. RFA Wave Ruler has just left us after spending three days anchored at Road Bay.

Wave Ruler is a 196.5 metre long Oiler. In other words, she is a very big tanker! Her breadth is 30.4 metres and she has a draught of 13 metres, making her difficult to take into shallow waters. She went into service for the Ministry of Defence in 2002.

Her 80 RFA crew were looking for a little R&R but sadly did not get much of it.

She arrived on Sunday 15 June, Father's Day, and immediately the Captain, Duncan Lamb, and his officers hosted a buffet lunch for the Governor, His Excellency, Mr Andrew George and Mrs George, the Chief Minister, the Honourable Osbourne Fleming and other local dignitaries. We drank cocktails on the fantastic Bridge, marvelling at the vista afforded by the panoramic windows. Then we were treated to a very good buffet lunch, the galley staff having put themselves out for us.

The Waver Ruler volunteer cricket team took on a local team for a friendly match on Sunday afternoon. It was just as well it was friendly as the locals thoroughly thrashed the sailors! The final score: Sailors 93 runs from 20 overs and Locals 93 runs from 8 overs. The Locals then went on to continue batting and eventually made 240 runs.

The Captain managed a couple of hours on shore after the lunch party had left and I fear that that was all the rest time he got, as the next day saw him leading a group of officers to the Queen's Birthday Party at Government House. Resplendent in their white tropical uniforms they stood out from the colourful outfits the other guests wore. They were happy to pose for photographs with the Governor and the Chief Minister and they were unanimous in pronouncing the buffet, laid on by Mrs George, excellent. Having tasted the offerings myself, I have to say I agree with them!

Tuesday saw the crew all very busy. All day long visitors came and went; the liberty boat going as fast as it could between the ship and shore.
Captain Lamb paid courtesy calls on the Governor, Chief Minister and the Commissioner of Police. He then held a Press Conference for local reporters.

The Anguilla Fire Service spent the day aboard, training with fire hoses, and got very wet in the process. They seemed to enjoy the very realistic scenarios put to them. It is not often that they are called on to put out a fire on a ship and this is what they practised in all guises.

Members of the Disaster Management Committee came aboard for a tour of the emergency supplies and a briefing by the Acting Chief Officer, which one member of the Committee later commented as being 'a learning experience.' One of the roles of the ship in the Caribbean during Hurricane Season (June to end of November) is to assist in hurricane relief. RFA Wave Ruler carries a 'large pack' of emergency supplies, everything from lights and generators to a large inflatable boat capable of carrying a Land Rover.

Meanwhile there was a Navigation briefing for members of Customs, the Police Marine Unit and Immigration. They learnt about how a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) is carried out and then worked on their course plotting.

Literally the last thing the crew did before they left was to send a football team to play the National Anguilla Football Team. Composed of officers and crew with an average age in the mid forties, they were creamed by the local lithe and swift footballers. The final score was 12:1 to the Anguillians but they all kept smiling and were happy to pose together for photos afterwards.
The ship left late on Tuesday evening for Montserrat, its next port of call, leaving many new friends behind.
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Captain Lamb and his crew for the hospitality, kindness and cooperation showed me while I was on board. Captain Lamb found the time for me to interview him at length for The Anguillian and for Ships Monthly in the UK and I am indebted to him for his kindness. In particular I also wish to thank Third Officer Phillip Balch, who manfully tried to answer all my many questions.
The photos from top to bottom: the football teams, the Queens Birthday Party, Phillip Balch on deck, RFA Wave Ruler, Captain Lamb at the Press Conference.
RFA Info:
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service (RFA) is a civilian-manned fleet of 18 ships, owned by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD).

It's primary role is to supply the Royal Navy (RN) at sea with food, fuel, ammunition and spares required to maintain operations away from its home port. It also provides the RN with sea-bourne aviation training facilities and secure logistical support.
RFA Waver Ruler arrived in the Caribbean last month and will remain until December. During this time, in addition to her support of the accompanying RN frigate, she will also provide counter narcotics assistance to the US, French and Dutch authorities in the area. At each port of call her crew offer advice and assistance on a variety of matters similar to those provided in Anguilla.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting - they have a great life and get to see the world. I hope they do some work to get all those buffet calories off!