Martyn Roper

Governor of Cayman Islands

Guest blogger for FCDO Editorial

7th October 2022

UK Ministry of Defence provides support to Cayman Islands following Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian caused much anxiety and tension for many in the Cayman Islands as it was the first storm for the hurricane season to set its path close to the country. However, the storm created an opportunity for great collaboration between the Cayman Islands Government and the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).

In the run up to Hurricane Ian, the Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team (OLRT) from UK MOD arrived in Grand Cayman to work with the Cayman Islands National Emergency Operations Committee and provide a direct link to UK MOD.

In June of this year, the JFQ conducted an exercise with Cayman Islands Government. This previous engagement allowed the ORLT deployed to have access to a network of stakeholders on island and an understanding of how they would plug into the local response during a crisis.

Prior to the storm, the ORLT supported Hazard Management – Cayman Islands colleagues with distributing meals, setting up shelters, and appeared in video messaging used by the Government’s Communications department.

Along with this support, the community was further reassured knowing that the Royal Navy ship HMS Medway was within the area and that a Crisis Response Troop would come ashore to assist with post-storm recovery efforts. The team consisted of engineers, port/airport specialists, carpenters, electricians and heavy machinery operators/drivers.

Disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of the storm gave an opportunity for the Cayman Islands Regiment and the ORLT to work together in clean-up efforts. Though HMS Medway remained off shore, the team travelled in on 2 Rigid Inflatable Boats, escorted by the Cayman Islands Coast Guard.

HMS Medway’s personnel, accompanied by the Regiment and the OLRT, set to work supporting clean-up efforts in George Town, South Sound and East End.

The Cayman Islands’ experience with Hurricane Ian has shown how joined up UK and Cayman assets are all crucial in the run up to and following a disaster. It served as an excellent training exercise for both Cayman and UK assets and provided reassurance for many across the islands.