On Wednesday 1 September, the Wildcat helicopter from RFA Wave Knight completed its second visit to SVG as part of the UK’s efforts to help SVG in the aftermath of the volcanic eruption.
What started out as a public request from Lead Scientist Prof. Richie Robertson to PM Ralph Gonsalves on their daily morning programme giving updates to the nation on everything volcano related, was noted by the British High Commission and ended up being answered by the UK Government.
On Friday 11th June, RFA Wave Knight journeyed from Barbados to SVG to drop off relief supplies donated by Barbados. While at Port Kingstown, the Wildcat on board journeyed up to La Soufrière along with two scientists stationed at the Belmont Observatory.
This served as an important day as it was the first time that high resolution pictures were taken of the volcano. The scientists at the observatory stressed the importance of replacing the monitoring equipment stationed along the La Soufriere volcano. The crew agreed that once all the equipment was sourced, the Wildcat would be of service in assisting the scientists at the observatory and NEMO to place the necessary equipment at, and conduct evaluation of, the volcano.
On Wednesday September 1st this became a reality. The pilots flew from RFA Wave Knight, 30 miles off the coast of SVG, into Cumberland playing field to pick up the engineers and do a few shuttle runs to and from the playing field to the volcano. The crew dropped the engineers off near the rim of the La Soufrière, where they rebuilt a seismometer station that had been destroyed in the recent eruption.
They also flew the Director of NEMO (National Emergency Management Organisation), Michelle Forbes, to view the impact of the eruption on the landscape and local communities. Director Forbes also expressed her thanks to the High Commission of making the arrangements of the RFA Wave Knight visit to SVG to support the installation of the seismic equipment at the summit of the volcano.
Resident British Commissioner, Steve Moore was present to welcome the Wildcat crew. He stated: “I’m personally delighted that this has come to fruition. We spotted an opportunity to help out and we made it happen. Huge thanks to RFA Wave Knight and the Royal Navy for their support.”
One of the pilots, Lt Osborne expressed that: “It was very rewarding to able to help the engineers re-build such an important piece of equipment. I’m returning to the UK soon to start training as a Principal Warfare Officer so it was a privilege to have my last Wildcat flight in such spectacular surroundings!”