SouthCom Sends Team to Haiti, Kearsarge Delivers Tons of Aid
American Forces Press Service
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Sept. 12, 2008 An eight-member team from U.S. Southern Command, with headquarters in Miami, will arrive here today to support ongoing U.S. relief efforts in the country.
The team -- two Creole translators, three engineers and three operational planners -- will join ongoing U.S. military disaster assistance activities in Haiti carried out by the crew of the USS Kearsarge operating from the Gulf of Gonâves.
The team will provide technical engineering assistance to the Haitian government, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance officials for critical infrastructure, bridge and road repair efforts, U.S. Army Col. Norberto Cintron, SouthCom command engineer, said.
"The distribution of aid has been hampered by the devastation of roads and bridges in Haiti,” Cintron said. “We look forward to the challenge of restoring access to isolated communities."
USS Kearsarge continued its support of disaster relief efforts in Haiti yesterday, launching five helicopters and three landing craft to deliver aid to remote areas suffering in the aftermath of recent storms.
Overall, the Kearsarge mission in Haiti has delivered an estimated 350 metric tons of relief supplies in addition to 1,500 gallons of water.
The Caribbean nation was hit hard by tropical storms Fay, Gustav and Hanna and then again by Hurricane Ike, leaving eight of Haiti's 10 geographic departments flooded, destroying bridges and roads and leaving residents desperate for aid.
On the fourth day of operations, CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter crews flew relief missions to Gonaives, Les Cayes and Port de Paix, delivering about 85 metric tons of pre-packaged food such as flour, beans, rice and high-energy biscuits from the World Food Program, as well as hygiene kits from the U.N. Population Fund.
To date, CH-53E and MH-60S Seahawk pilots have flown a combined 28 missions into the country to deliver supplies. Personnel from Assault Craft Unit 2 have launched landing craft daily, sending supplies and personnel ashore. Kearsarge also continued to send volunteer working parties to Port-au-Prince, to assist in loading and unloading supplies.
"This is truly a team effort," said Navy Capt. Walter Towns, Kearsarge´s commanding officer. "Everyone from the craftmasters, helicopter pilots, flight deck and well deck crews to the unsung heroes on the working parties carry hundreds of pounds of food and water supplies. They do it all without complaint, because they know their efforts are saving lives."
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.
(From a U.S. Southern Command news release.)