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RFA Argus aids hurricane-hit Jamaican schools

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The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ship Argus has broken off from drug-busting duties in the Caribbean to deliver disaster relief aid to Jamaica.

The aid delivered will help Jamaicans rebuild and repair more than 70 schools damaged last month by Hurricane Sandy.

Whilst the Jamaican authorities dealt with the immediate aftermath of the storm, which barrelled through the Caribbean and up the Eastern Seaboard of the USA one month ago causing widespread devastation in places, Argus was asked to help with the longer-term repair and rebuilding process.

The supplies that Argus delivered to the Caribbean island will enable more than six dozen schools to be rebuilt or repaired.

Although on drug-busting duties in the region, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship - which provides helicopter training for the Navy and has a state-of-the-art casualty treatment centre aboard - also carries a specialist disaster relief team and extensive stores to deal with damage caused by a hurricane.

It was these stores that were requested by Jamaican authorities via the British High Commission on the island and the Department for International Development.

Argus broke off from her counter-narcotics work and made best speed for the capital Kingston, where her crew offloaded 200 emergency shelter kits consisting of tarpaulin and securing mechanisms.

The kits will allow buildings to be made weatherproof - which means pupils can return to the affected schools and also that more permanent repairs can be carried out.

The offload was completed quickly and efficiently, utilising a team of sailors from both the RFA and the Royal Navy. Both teams of individuals have been training and working hard together throughout the year to ensure they remain at a high state of readiness to assist in any situation.

The kits are now being distributed by Jamaica's emergency department, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, amongst the nine parishes and to the 73 schools affected.

After all stores were put ashore, Argus once again set sail to continue her patrol duties in the waters of the Caribbean but she and her crew remain poised to respond to any request for disaster relief.

Argus is due back in the UK in mid-December after a seven-and-a-half-month deployment. Her patrol in the Caribbean will be handed over to RFA Wave Knight to maintain a year-round British presence in the region.