Hurricane Irma Relief

The RAF was an integral part of Operation Ruman, the UK's biggest military and civilian operation since 2011.

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Devastation in the Caribbean

In September 2017 the Caribbean was hit by Hurricane Irma, a category five tropical cyclone with wind speeds of 185mph. Irma killed over 130 people and caused catastrophic damage, leaving thousands of people without shelter and power, facing hunger and disease.

An RAF Hercules co-pilot observes the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma.
An RAF Hercules co-pilot observes the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma.

What was operation Ruman?

Ruman was the name of the UK’s humanitarian assistance operation in the aftermath of hurricane Irma. The operation started on 07 September 2017 and lasted for five weeks.

Operation Ruman: The RAF stats

  • The RAF delivered 1,500 tonnes of freight and humanitarian aid
  • 2,000 passengers flown into and around the region
  • 6 types of RAF aircraft used
  • 15 RAF Squadrons and Units involved

An immediate response

We don't know when we'll next be needed around the world to provide humanitarian assistance or defend threats to the UK and our allies, but we are always ready to get there quickly and make an immediate impact.

A C-17 Globemaster taking off from RAF Brize Norton
A C-17 Globemaster leaving RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire only days after Hurricane Irma struck. This plane and others were packed with equipment and humanitarian supplies, bound for the Caribbean.

Getting support to those in need

For more than a month our personnel worked with partners to deliver the food, water, medical supplies, and materials the island residents desperately needed.

The RAF moved 1,500 tonnes of freight into and around the Caribbean during the Hurricane relief effort, including shelter kits, solar lanterns and buckets - essential items in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

An RAF Puma helicopter delivering aid on a beach
We delivered 75 tonnes of humanitarian aid to over a thousand miles of affected islands.
Materials being unloaded from an RAF plane
We airlifted the construction materials needed to begin securing and rebuilding devastated buildings across the islands.

Getting passengers to cut-off places

Our aircraft flew 2,000 passengers into and around the region in the aftermath of Irma. Royal Marines, UK Government ministers and officials, UK police, probation officers could get on the ground to start their critical work.

A medic from the RAF’s Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) on an RAF flight
Personnel from the RAF’s Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) were deployed, as part of the RAF’s Deployable Aeromedical Response Teams (DARTS).
The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson assesses the situation from the cockpit of an RAF Hercules
The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson assesses the situation from the cockpit of an RAF Hercules.
FCO official by an RAF Chinook
The RAF ensured officials from charities, non-governmental organisations, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development, could reach the areas that most needed their help.

Working with our international partners

RAF personnel unloading building materials from a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules.
RAF personnel unloading building materials from a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules.

In response to a request from French President Emmanuel Macron, an RAF C-17 Globemaster was dispatched to France to fly specialist disaster relief equipment including a tipper truck, digger and a bulldozer, to the to the French Island of Guadeloupe.

The RAF team

The 38 Expeditionary Air Wing led the RAF’s response of over a dozen flying squadrons and specialist RAF logistics, communications, and security squadrons and units:

  • 10 Squadron
  • XXIV Squadron
  • 27 Squadron
  • 33 Squadron
  • 47 Squadron
  • LXX Squadron
  • 99 Squadron
  • 101 Squadron
  • 7644 (VR) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force
  • Deployable Aeromedical Response Team Squadron
  • UK Mobile Air Movements Squadron
  • 90 Signals Unit
  • No 3 Tactical Police Squadron
  • Tactical Air Traffic Control

Aircraft used in operation Ruman

  • C-17 Globemaster
  • C-130J Hercules
  • A400M Atlas
  • Voyager
  • Puma
  • Chinook

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