News story

Royal Engineers provide vital skills in the Philippines

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A small team of Royal Engineers are helping the people of the Philippines rebuild their lives after the devastation caused by the typhoon.

Service personnel working to repair the roof of Bitoon elementary school on Calagnaan island [Picture: Darren Fletcher Photography Limited]
Service personnel working to repair the roof of Bitoon elementary school

A troop of 30 men from 24 Commando Engineer Regiment are on board HMS Illustrious as she delivers life-sustaining provisions to people in the worst affected areas.

A part of 3 Commando Brigade, the troop normally provides engineering support to the Royal Marines, but on this occasion are lending their expertise to the disaster relief operation.

The skills they have brought to the Philippines include the ability to build showers, provide sanitation, repair buildings and build bridges.

They can also quickly spot things that might go unnoticed by the untrained eye but which could become a problem further down the line.

Service personnel
Service personnel working to repair the roof of Bitoon elementary school on Calagnaan island [Picture: Darren Fletcher Photography Limited]

The commanding officer of 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Ben Campbell-Colquhoun, said:

In humanitarian disaster relief operations our skills complement those of the Royal Navy very well.

The Royal Navy has engineering skills in electrics and mechanics, where we have skills in construction and artisan engineering.

Combine this with the manpower available from the ship and you can form very effective teams on the ground.

Due to the nature of their work, all the soldiers have been trained in amphibious warfare alongside the Royal Marines.

Eight Royal Engineers were already on board HMS Illustrious, working with Juliet Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines who had been taking part in the Cougar 13 annual deployment.

A soldier from 24 Commando Engineer Regiment
A soldier from 24 Commando Engineer Regiment carrying out repair work at Bitoon on Calagnaan island [Picture: Darren Fletcher Photography Limited]

When Illustrious powered into Singapore they were joined by 22 of their colleagues and all of them are now fully integrated within the shore-based working parties in the Philippines.

Helicopter and commando carrier HMS Illustrious arrived in the Philippines earlier this week and took over the aid distribution and assistance role from HMS Daring.

She arrived carrying around 500 tonnes of aid organised by the Department for International Development which included 12,500 blankets, 20,000 candles, 30,000 rice bags, 9,800 tins of sardines, 8,100 tins of vegetables, 17,000 shelter kits, 1,000 jerry cans and 1,900 water carriers.

She also has 7 helicopters on board to help get the aid quickly into remote areas – 3 Sea King Mark 4s, 1 Merlin and 3 Army Lynx.

Published 28 November 2013