MORE than 600 deployed service personnel from 40 Commando Royal Marines have returned to their base at Norton Manor Camp, in Norton Fitzwarren, following a three week deployment to the Caribbean on Operation Ruman.

The first wave of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) support deployed on September 8 across the Caribbean to deal with the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The UK Task Force area of operations spanned almost 1,000 miles from Barbados, Anguilla, The British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Commanding Officer of the Lead Commando Group, Lt Col Paul Maynard, speaking of Op Ruman, said: "it is a true demonstration of the Commando ethos and values - of innovation, high readiness and understanding of risk."

The priority issues were identified by the Overseas Territories Governments and humanitarian NGOs and focused the military efforts on making food, water and shelter readily available, reinstating critical infrastructure and supporting security where required.

A Company of 40 Commando assisted local and international police in securing the main prison on the island, returning more than 100 escaped prisoners and removing 21 of the most dangerous from the island.

The Governor of the BVI, Gus Jaspert, said: "The military task force supported by Mounts Bay and HMS Ocean has been a game changer here, helping us get our security situation sorted out incredibly quickly, helping deliver humanitarian relief and helping to rebuild our infrastructure.

"Everybody should be proud of what they’ve done."

A total of 180 tonnes of humanitarian aid was distributed in the region and military forces helped to deliver and secure much of it.

Once the security situation was deemed to be stable and the territories were back on their feet, military personnel were able to hand over to local authorities and began their withdrawal from the area from the end of September.

RFA Mounts Bay, first on the scene after Irma to offer assistance with specialist teams, will remain in the Caribbean for the rest of the hurricane season.

Now 40 Commando has returned to the UK, they will be reinstating their very high readiness status, which dictates that they are ready to move at 24 hours notice.

However, they will also have a few days of down time with family and friends to look forward to during their post-operational leave over the coming weeks.