Hurricane Irma has elicited widespread military support, both preparatory and reactionary.
Operation Ruman – the UK military’s post-Hurricane Irma support provision effort – is now well in progress.
It began with the deployment of almost 300 military personnel on 9 September. The majority were Royal Marines, including 40 Commando and 3 Commando Brigade members. Additionally dispatched to the Caribbean were engineers and more specialised RAF, Royal Navy and British Army representatives, plus food supplies, clean water, emergency shelter kits and much more besides.
All this was ferried to the Caribbean onboard examples of the Royal Air Force’s ‘big three’: the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Airbus A330 Voyager and Airbus A400M Atlas. All three types are formally stationed at RAF Brize Norton, equipping numbers 99, 10 and 70 squadrons respectively. They’re now positioned in Barbados, forming part of the UK’s Joint Taskforce being assembled there.
Irma Aid Supply
Barbados has effectively now become Operation Ruman’s primary Irma aid supply hub.
Since the initial deployment wave, more in the way of UK military support has been dispatched. A second C-17 and at least one Puma HC2 helicopter have been sent to the region, alongside the RFA’s (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Mounts Bay landing ship dock, loaded with a Wildcat HMA2 multimission maritime helicopter.
Amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean is also on its way and had, by 11 September, reached Gibraltar.
Irma Florida Damage
By 10 September, Hurricane Irma had reached Florida, where a massive US military rescue and relief programme was already in place. Moody Air Force Base, Fort Bragg, Robins Air Force Base, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Maxwell Air Force Base had become all nominated post-Irma support sites. Florida's Army and Air National Guard - totalling approximately 7,000 - was mobilised and a mass of support equipment was readied for action.
Ultimately, Irma didn't quite hit with the intensity expected but still left six million Floridan homes without power. Now, a enormous USAF and US National Guard-led airborne relief mission's about to launch, to handle what officials already term a looming "humanitarian crisis."