Skip navigation

Helping Hands

An aerial view of the RFA Wave Ruler anchored off Jackson Point.

Fresh water usually tops the desperately needed list whenever a disaster devastates local infrastructure.

With that in mind, one of the main features of the RFA Wave Ruler is its onboard reverse osmosis plant. This allows the ship to produce a 100 tonnes of water daily. While it needs about 30 tonnes for onboard use, the balance can go onshore for disaster relief.

"We are set up to deliver water by boat, or if a helicopter is available, we have large containers fitted with taps that can be distributed to communities by air," explained Commanding Officer Captain Nigel Budd.

But water is not all the RFA Wave Ruler carries. It stocks fuel, first aid supplies and repair materials such as hammers, nails, wood and even wheelbarrows.

"We carry an extensive range of disaster relief goods. In addition, we have onboard capacity to provide food, water and shelter, as well as skilled personnel to support the recovery effort," the captain said.

The RFA Wave Ruler can produce up to 100 tonnes of fresh water a day.

The Cayman Islands has already benefited from these capabilities on two occasions: RFA Wave Ruler anchored off Grand Cayman in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, to deliver aid. More recently, following Hurricane Paloma in November 2008, the ship sailed to the assistance of Cayman Brac residents.

"Whenever we go to a disaster area, we ensure that our efforts support those of the local authorities. For instance, on the Brac, following a request from District Administrator Ernie Scott, our on-board technician was able to restore airport communications so planes could land with supplies."

The RFA Wave Ruler, a custom-built re-supply and support ship, is part of the Royal Navy's replenishment and logistic fleet. She is currently stationed in the Caribbean, specifically to support UK Overseas Territories should they require humanitarian or technical assistance after a hurricane or other disaster. According to Captain Budd, the role reinforces the UK's commitment to the region.

The ship can cross the Caribbean in just three days to arrive at even the most distant disaster area. However, in the case of a hurricane, it will follow the weather as closely as possible, permitting almost immediate assistance after the All Clear is announced.

This vessel can evacuate up to 430 people and in a worst case scenario, can carry as many as 3,400 for short-less than six hours-journeys.


For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver