It took 15 hours to load soldiers, medical personnel, medical supplies and food on board the MV Galleons Passage ferry to ship to St Vincent, the crew said on Tuesday morning.
This reporter is also on board.
The vessel was due to set sail from Port of Spain shortly afterwards and is expected to reach the volcano-stricken island on Tuesday afternoon.
National Security Minister Stuart Young spoke to the 50 soldiers on board before the vessel departed, hailing the “remarkable” effort involved to provide humanitarian aid to St Vincent and the Grenadines.
He told them, “As usual, you’ve risen to the occasion. You are going into – I don’t know how to term it – but a zone that is not a normal zone. There is an active volcano…When you are there, do not disappoint us. Remember you are representing the red, white and black.”
Young also implored the soldiers, Red Cross and other humanitarian contingent, “Be careful, be safe.
“People forget we are still in a pandemic. You are going to assist those who are in need.”
Young said the Prime Minister and himself had been in contact with St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to find out what Vincentians need.
“One of the major concerns is lack of water. We are trying to arrange marine vessels to take water . We have a number of water trucks on Galleons Passage, mattresses, foodstuff. We will be sending another vessel up with more relief items.”
He recalled, “Last time we did this was in 2019 when we went to (hurricane-stricken) Bahamas with 100-strong troops.”
The soldiers are expected to stay in St Vincent for two weeks, but Young warned that the situation on the ground could be fluid. He toured the vessel after speaking to those on board.