USS Kearsarge Continues Support for Haiti Relief Operations
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD USS KEARSARGE AT SEA, Sept. 11, 2008 Navy amphibious ship USS Kearsarge continued its support of disaster relief efforts in Haiti yesterday, providing logistical support to remote areas hit hardest by this season's tropical storms and hurricanes.
On the second day of operations, Sept. 9, pilots from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 flew relief missions to Jeremie and Les Cayes, delivering about 45 metric tons of pre-packaged food such as flour, beans, rice and high-energy biscuits from the World Food Program. Landing craft delivered another estimated 85 metric tons of supplies and water to the northern city of Gonaives, Haiti's second-largest city.
"I think it's good we are actually doing something out here," said Navy Seaman Andres Vazques, one of the sailors assisting with the offload of supplies in Gonaives. "I am glad we're actually helping people who really just went through this situation. They're really in need right now. We're bringing them food, water and supplies - we're not just sitting here. We are getting people in and out every day. We know we are doing our part."
Working on the ground in Port-au-Prince, Kearsarge sailors along with embarked soldiers, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen worked continuously loading and unloading supplies for delivery.
More supplies are scheduled for delivery by air and surface crafts to Gonaives and Saint Marc.
"We are quickly moving to get as many supplies out to the remote areas as possible," Navy Capt. Walt Towns, Kearsarge commanding officer, said. "Our entire team of military personnel are doing all they can to ease the suffering of those affected by the hurricanes."
Four storms within a month have flooded eight of Haiti's 10 geographic departments, destroying bridges and roads, leaving hundreds of Haitians dead, tens of thousands homeless and thousands desperate for humanitarian aid.
On Sept. 5, U.S. Southern Command directed the U.S. 4th Fleet to divert Kearsarge from its humanitarian and civic-assistance mission in Colombia to assist in the relief efforts in Haiti following destruction caused by Hurricane Hanna and the threat of Hurricane Ike. Kearsarge’s capabilities include the fast movement of personnel and cargo by helicopter and landing craft, making it the ideal platform to support urgent humanitarian relief missions, officials said.
Overall, the Kearsarge mission in Haiti has delivered an estimated 141 metric tons of relief supplies in addition to 750 gallons of water.
The objective of delivering emergency relief supplies is to help local governments and relief organizations achieve self-sufficiency as they rebuild from the destruction, officials said.
Kearsarge is in the Caribbean supporting Phase 2 of Continuing Promise 2008, a humanitarian assistance mission that includes helping partner nations affected by natural disasters and other emergencies resulting in suffering or danger to lives.
(From a U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet news release.)