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‘Lusty’, as the ship is known, has been in the Philippines since 25 November, delivering Department for International Development (DFID) aid supplies and providing ‘hands on’ help to many communities on some of the more remote islands affected by the storm.
Several senior members of the Philippine government and armed forces, including the Secretary of National Defence, Voltaire Gazmin, visited the ship during her brief time in port at Manila to thank members of DFID and the UK armed forces personnel who have been embarked on HMS Illustrious while she played her part in the aid mission.
Voltaire Gazmin said:
No amount of words can precisely express our most profound gratitude for the noble deeds of HMS Illustrious and the British sailors in extending utmost assistance to the victims of that deadly natural disaster which has ravaged many islands of our archipelago.
We can only thank you from the depths of our hearts, and treasure your most-appreciated help in our trying moments that has in no small way eased the pains and sufferings of our affected countrymen.
I am extremely proud of our military’s hard work in support of humanitarian relief in the Philippines. I am grateful to the RAF detachments and the crews of HMS Illustrious and HMS Daring for their swift distribution of aid during the disaster relief operation and am pleased that DFID will continue to support the recovery effort.
HMS Illustrious has played a crucial role in getting vital aid supplies and medics to the worst hit areas, including some of the most hard to reach islands. Britain can be proud of the part she has played.
The UK government has made more than £60 million available for the relief effort and will continue to stand by the people of the Philippines.
While relief efforts continue, we are working hard to protect women and girls from sexual violence and trafficking. We are committed to helping the people of the Philippines as they rebuild their country.
Captain Mike Utley, commanding officer of HMS Illustrious, said:
The ability of Illustrious to provide assistance to isolated islands off the Philippines has been a key part of the overall UK aid mission. Each of these communities had different needs following the Typhoon and our response has been led by close co-ordination between the Philippine people, DFID and the UK military. My people are proud to have helped set these communities on the path to longer term recovery.
With guidance from on board DFID specialists, the ship’s company of 650 and 300 additional personnel, including Royal Marines, Army personnel and civilian medical staff, have repaired buildings damaged by the storm, cleared debris and delivered medical care, and the 7 embarked helicopters have delivered provisions and tools to allow island communities to begin to reconstruct their lives.
HMS Illustrious will begin her return journey to the UK tomorrow once she has been resupplied in Manila. DFID will continue to co-ordinate the UK contribution to the Philippine government’s humanitarian aid mission.