HMS Medway exercises with a Knightrider Wildcat helicopter.

Preparing for missions in the Caribbean

The Royal Navy’s Caribbean task group has joined forces for the first time this year, taking part in the region’s largest military exercise

After delivering tonnes of aid to the people of St Vincent after a volcanic eruption, support ship RFA Wave Knight linked up with patrol vessel HMS Medway for Tradewinds off the coast of Guyana in South America.

HMS Medway (front) with RFA Wave Knight (back).
HMS Medway (front) with RFA Wave Knight (back).

The two-week long exercise is run by the US military and concentrates on the ability of military and law enforcement agencies across the Caribbean and Caribbean basin to work together.

The exercise focuses on stopping the trafficking of illegal narcotics and providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Alongside the hosts, thirteen nations committed to Tradewinds 2021, including the Netherlands, France and Canada.

HMS Medway (front) and RFA Wave Knight (back) recently linked up for linked up for Tradewinds off the coast of Guyana in South America.
HMS Medway (front) and RFA Wave Knight (back) recently linked up for Tradewinds off the coast of Guyana in South America.

On the water, the British vessels were joined by French patrol vessels Dumont d’Urville and La Confiance, US Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser, Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard Cutter Jaguar P-810, Canadian coastal defence vessel HMCS Shawinigan and Guyana coast guard ship Essequibo.

They practised combined manoeuvres with the various participants just 250 yards apart, putting their skills and drills to the test in a range of exercises.

Canadian coastal defence vessel HMCS Shawinigan (front) pictured with RFA Wave Knight (back).
Canadian coastal defence vessel HMCS Shawinigan (front) pictured with RFA Wave Knight (back).

RFA Wave Knight’s Wildcat helicopter, known as Knightrider tested the response of gunnery teams on the tanker. HMS Medway practised rescuing by winching sailors from confined decks and worked with boarding teams in preparation for counter-drugs operations.

“Our experience, expertise and ability to work closely with our allies and partners contributed significantly in making Exercise Tradewinds a success. The UK is committed to the Caribbean and has demonstrated a clear obligation to our Overseas Territories in the region, our Commonwealth partners and allies.”

— Captain Herbert, RFA Wave Knight’s Commanding Officer

Knightrider, RFA Wave Knight’s helicopter conducting exercises on Tradewinds 2021.
Knightrider, RFA Wave Knight’s helicopter conducting exercises on Tradewinds 2021.

HMS Medway provides the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the Caribbean and is now into her second storm season. Last year she worked extensively with RFA Argus, although thankfully there was no major disaster which required their involvement.

“While we hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst. These ships are the first-responders of the UK’s plan for disaster relief in the Caribbean. We are all are proud to be working together with local authorities, helping people when they need it most.”

— Commander Trim, task group Commander

Guyana was due to host the exercise last year but Covid postponed the 36th iteration of Tradewinds until this June when it was able to take place again.

The next key diary date for the two ships after Barbados is a three-day disaster-relief exercise in Montserrat in early July, the first time both vessels have been able to demonstrate their combined abilities to provide help.

Find out where the UK Armed Forces are deployed here:👇

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