Providing humanitarian assistance

Whether disasters are man-made or natural, the results are often the same: fractured infrastructure, shortages of food and water, and a lack of essential services like sanitation and electricity. Responding to these life-threatening scenarios is central to our ethos – we have the skills, experience and equipment to make a real difference when it matters most. 

Key activities

Providing humanitarian assistance

Restoring infrastructure

From frozen tundra to dense jungle, we’re used to getting the job done in challenging conditions. No power? No problem. No water? We'll improvise. Overcoming adverse conditions is all in a day’s work for our teams, so we’re ready, practised and able whether we are re-establishing law and order, restoring water and power, or repairing airstrips, roads and buildings.  

Providing humanitarian assistance

Providing aid and support

By combining the brute strength and capability of our fleet with the agility of the Fleet Air Arm’s helicopters, we get aid where it’s needed most, fast. Our capability, tenacity and creativity have made a lifesaving difference in Sri Lanka, Haiti, the Philippines and the Caribbean Islands, getting supplies, skills and support to courageous people facing down disaster.

10 million

gallons safe water supplied after Hurricane Irma.


people supported following Typhoon Haiyan.


tonnes of food provided after Typhoon Haiyan.

Providing humanitarian assistance

Evacuations, rescues and repatriation

From evacuations during crises through to rescue and repatriation following natural disasters, we’re here for the people of the UK and its territories. We also provide emergency medical evacuations to ship and islands in British waters, and conduct rescue missions closer to home, returning stranded swimmers, hikers and surfers to safety.


repatriated following Icelandic volcanic ash incident.


UK search and rescue capability.


days to restore water and power.

Providing humanitarian assistance

Preparing for every eventuality

A capable military plans and prepares for emergencies we hope you will never see. So rest assured that whatever the circumstances, the Royal Navy is ready. Whether that means sandbagging to save homes in the Lake District as flood waters rise, assisting police, medics and firefighters following civil unrest, or restoring calm and order to overseas territories following natural disasters, our people are poised and prepared. 

Meet the team...

Lt Boak,
Navigating Officers

During our transit out to the Gulf, HMS Shoreham will be on standby to divert if we need to help in a Safety of Life at Sea crisis. That means we're on-call if another ship gets into trouble. I'm proud that my skills may be called upon to help us save lives, and that in doing my job well, I'll make a potentially lifesaving difference in our speed to rescue.

Marine Engineer

Helping deliver aid to Sierra Leone was the best and most rewarding experience of my career in the Royal Navy. It was hard work, but I got to work side-by-side with the people who would benefit most, and saw what a difference my efforts made.

Logistics Officer

I'll never forget the people we met in the Philippines after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. They saw us working out in the heat trying to get their school back up and running, and were trying to give us food and water - and yet they were the ones in need. It was a humbling experience I will never forget.

Select a location to explore our operations


South Atlantic

Atlantic Patrol Tasking

Ships and units on Atlantic Patrol Tasking provide ongoing protection and reassurance to British interests in the Atlantic, maintaining the continuous Royal Naval presence in the Atlantic. 



Operation Ruman

Operation Ruman is the UK's military response to providing vital humanitarian aid and supplies to the Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma. The specialist humanitarian and disaster relief team on RFA Mounts Bay and her Wildcat helicopter are providing assistance to badly affected areas. Royal Marines from 40 Commando are helping to distribute aid and support local police. HMS Ocean has been diverted from the Mediterranean and is carrying a significant amount of aid and equipment.


South Atlantic

Operation Gritrock

The UK armed forces played a pivotal role in delivering British support as they worked with the government of Sierra Leone to tackle the crisis. Using British expertise and local building contractors, the UK committed to support 700 new beds in Ebola treatment facilities. This package supported the country’s stretched public health services in containing the disease by helping up to nearly 8,800 patients over a 6-month period.



Atlantic Patrol Tasking North

The APT(N) task centres on reassurance to UK overseas dependent territories, providing humanitarian and disaster relief during the main hurricane season (June to November) and conducting counter narcotic patrols as part of the wider international effort.


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Reasons to join us - humanitarian aid

The role of the Royal Navy isn’t all about combat. In fact, as you read this, our people are involved in humanitarian aid missions all over the world – could you join them?


Operation Gritlock

The UK armed forces played a pivotal role in delivering British support as they worked with the government of Sierra Leone to tackle the Ebola crisis. 

Find out more