In the aftermath of the devastating Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, which killed 45 people in the archipelagic state of the Bahamas, particularly on the Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands, the RBDF has come under criticism. Some 2500 people are listed as missing and it is feared that the death toll could rise significantly.

The RBDF, despite deploying nearly all of its assets, including its commando squadron with two Chinese-made Tiger APCs, has come under severe criticism for its failure to stop the orgy of looting and violence that has followed the aftermath of the hurricane. In addition, its failure to charter or coordinate with civilian aircraft and boats to maximize the relief effort has been severely criticized.

Despite international support, including support operations by the British and US Navies, the US Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Air Force, the RBDF has borne the brunt of the burden as well as criticism for its seemingly ineffective elements in containing looting. Further assistance in the form of 119 soldiers from Trinidad and Tobago and fifty from Jamaica has also arrived.

The RBDF has deployed its force of two Bahamas class 60m OPVs, Damen Stan Patrol 4207 and 3007 vessels, plus the Damen Stan Lander HMBS Lawrence Major to reach the affected people and its survey flight has conducted extensive aerial reconnaissance. The HMBS Lawrence Major has containerized disaster relief modules which can be deployed to provide medical, catering and basic sanitation facilities to disaster victims.However, the force has only two light aircraft and no helicopters.

Photo: RBDF Commando squadron with two Tiger APCs during pre-Hurricane Dorian preparations Credit: Royal Bahamas Defence Force

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