The deployment of RFA Mounts Bay to the Bahamas to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, will be welcome, but is it enough (Report, 6 September)?
Together with the general secretaries of RMT and Nautilus International, the UK’s leading maritime unions, I have previously put the case for a pre-stationed, custom-designed non-military emergency relief vessel manned by UK merchant navy seafarers to be stationed in the Caribbean on a permanent basis.
The ship would be able to carry significantly more humanitarian aid and disaster relief equipment than at present. It would act as an HQ and accommodation unit for hundreds of first-response personnel flown out from the UK.
The vessel would also be fully employed outside disaster-relief periods as a training ship for future merchant navy seafarers, engaged in humanitarian aid and ocean and beach cleanups.
A new UK charity, Britannia Maritime Aid, has been formed to design and build such a ship and is now seeking both public and government support and funding.
This year we celebrate the centenary of the merchant navy. What better way to remember the service and sacrifice of our predecessors than to engage current seafarers in humanitarian and environmental projects, and at the same time invest in the seafarers of the future?
Captain Kevin Slade
Chairman and trustee, Britannia Maritime Aid