Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Plymouth marines' mission to tackle ebola

The Royal Marines take their first steps on West African land Photo: Royal Navy

Royal Marines from Plymouth have been given a warm welcome as they come ashore in Sierra Leone to help the fight against ebola.

They had sailed in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Argus, which left Falmouth last month.

The small group of men from 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines and 42 Commando stepped ashore at Lungi beach to carry out a survey to see if the beach was suitable for landing craft to land.

Local people flocked to help them

Local people flock to welcome the Royal Marines as they stow their boats on the beach Credit: Royal Navy

The reception we received was overwhelming; I’d say that morethan 150 people met us when we landed on the beach. We explained that we were there to carry out survey work and they really wanted to help by providing us with local knowledge.

As a result we managed to gather more information than we had expected about the local area, while at the same time we were able to deploy a sonar on one of the Zodiacs to confirm the suitability of the beach for landings.

– Sergeant John McDonald of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines
The Royal Marine's landing craft is anchored offshore while the beach is surveyed Credit: Royal Navy

Corporal Gavin Smith was at the helm of the landing craft.

The response from the local community was really positive and despite Ebola being a major issue in West Africa, it seems that life is continuing as normal. All of our commandos have undergone rigorous counter Ebola training and adhered to these measures while ashore.

– Corporal Gavin Smith

RFA Argus was deployed to the West African country where she has begun playing a logistical role with three Merlin Mk2 helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose being used to transport British medical teams, stores and aid experts deployed to help tackle the Ebola virus.

The Royal Marines will continue with survey work in different areas in order to assist their longer term logistical role in transporting equipment, stores and personnel.

The Royal Marines' offshore raiding craft means they can respond quickly when needed Credit: Royal Navy

The UK Military is working in Sierra Leone supporting the Department for International Development at the request of the Government of Sierra Leone in the international battle against Ebola. The outbreak has the potential to affect many countries. It recognises that the battle is urgent.

More than 800 military personnel will be deployed in total to help with the establishment of Ebola Treatment Centres and an Ebola Training Academy. Around 450 of these personnel are already on the ground.

More on this story