RFA Wave Knight deployed to the Caribbean in May 2021, primarily to provide aid to overseas territories in the event of natural disasters. Following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Western Haiti on 14 August, she has now joined the US-led Task Force Bravo relief effort.
Support tanker, RFA Wave Knight is primarily being used as a base for helicopter operations that have been flying over parts of the Tiburon Peninsula which was the epicentre of the earthquake. Aircrew have been conducting reconnaissance missions to locate villages, towns and infrastructure urgently in need of help.
The earthquake killed at least 2,100 people and destroyed around 53,000 homes, damaging another 77,000. Doctors are struggling to treat at least 12,200 people who have been injured and hundreds are still missing and assumed to be trapped under rubble. Events in Afghanistan have largely overshadowed this disaster in the public consciousness. Poor sanitary conditions, in what was already the poorest nation in the Americas, threatens to create a public health epidemic if aid is not delivered more quickly.
The UK Government has announced a package of up to £1 million of initial support to Haiti. Experts from the UK’s Emergency Medical Team (UK EMT) have also been sent to assess requirements for medical assistance and identify additional support.
Wave Knight’s embarked Wildcat helicopter – 213 Flight of 815 Naval Air Squadron, callsign Knightrider, has flown sorties with an embarked photographer and a commando engineer to gather imagery and conduct the damage assessment. 228th Aviation Regiment US Army Black Hawks helicopters have operated from the ship, saving a long flight back to their bases for refuelling, providing rest for crews and maintenance support.
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is no stranger to this region and RFA Largs Bay was deployed to Hati to deliver aid directly from the UK in the wake of the 2010 earthquake which killed more than 200,000 people.