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4,400 miles Epic cruise: Delivered vaccines to the world's furthest island!

UK Armed Forces have transported coronavirus vaccines to the Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha – the most remote inhabited island in the world.

4,400 miles Epic cruise: Delivered vaccines to the world's furthest island!
04 May 2021 - 11:27

In a long-distance dash to beat foul weather, the Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Forth delivered vaccines to one of the most remote communities in the world - Tristan da Cunha, an isolated island some 1,500 nm to the west of South Africa. HMS Forth was the first ship to call on the island in eight months and the first Royal Navy vessel to visit in six years.

HMS Forth delivered doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine for Tristan da Cunha's inhabitants after a 2,200 nm journey from the Falklands. She was on a timeline: she would need to transit out and back in advance of the South Atlantic's severe winter storms. Tristan da Cunha has no airport, and its sole harbor is not usable during the southern hemisphere's winter; this means that the 200-plus inhabitants of the island depend heavily on a narrow time window for maritime resupply. 

HMS Forth, which is part of the Royal Navy's permanent presence in the Falklands, covered the final mile in a long-distance race to get the vaccine to the island. The Royal Air Force delivered the cargo from an air base near London to RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. Within an hour, the vaccine vials were transferred to secure storage aboard Forth and the ship got under way. 

The mission was a challenge for Forth: the 4,400 nm round trip was uncomfortably near the limit of the patrol ship’s maximum 5,500 nm range. There would be no chance to take on bunkers during the trip, so the crew had to make careful navigational decisions to minimize the fuel consumption impact of winds and currents. 

For the first time, the Royal Navy assisted the RAF and Strategic Command in a 6-day operation this month to the isolated South Atlantic island community.

An RAF Voyager aircraft made the 8,000 mile trip from RAF Brize Norton to the Falkland Islands, via Dakar in Senegal to refuel, before HMS Forth sailed the 2,000 mile voyage to Tristan da Cunha.

Delivered on behalf of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Crown Agents, enough doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have now been delivered to the island to cover the entire adult population.

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