Royal Navy and U.S. Navy Join Hurricane Relief Efforts in Honduras

hurricane eta honduras
Residents stranded on rooftops in San Pedro Sula, Honduras after Hurricane Eta (USAF)

Published Nov 13, 2020 9:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy and Royal Navy are joining forces for hurricane relief in Honduras, which was hit hard by Hurricane Eta and is now in the path of Tropical Storm Iota - the record-breaking 30th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Iota is expected to reach major hurricane status before making landfall near the border of Nicaragua and Honduras on Monday. 

Severe flooding and landslides caused by Hurricane Eta have killed about 60 people in Honduras and affected about 500,000 more. The Red Cross estimates that 3.6 million people in Central America have been affected by the storm. Those displaced by the catastrophe are now exposed to an elevated risk of COVID-19, cholera and yellow fever. 

U.S. Southern Command has directed relief resources to the region, including the destroyer USS William P. Lawrence and her helicopter squadron, which is assisting with aid delivery to remote parts of Honduras. 

Images courtesy USS William P. Lawrence / USN

The Royal Navy has diverted the amphib RFA Argus to Honduras' northeast coast, where she will serve as a "lily pad" for U.S. military aircraft for refueling and sustainment. The ship’s Merlin and Wildcat helicopters will be ready to carry out surveys of the damage and fly aid to isolated areas if required. 

"There is another storm coming, so it’s imperative we act quickly," said Commander Kate Muir (RN), the head of the UK Task Group in the Caribbean.

The Royal Navy typically deploys an amphib to the Caribbean each hurricane season to provide disaster relief coverage for British overseas territories and neighboring states. In its secondary roles, the vessel also participates in counternarcotics operations, goodwill visits and training exercises. 

In addition to her four helicopters, Argus carries a Royal Marines engineering detachment and a combat detachment. They are not presently expected to deploy ashore. 

RFA Argus under way in the Caribbean (Royal Navy)