WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2004 – The U.S. Joint Task Force set up to provide assistance to the nations affected by last weekend’s Indian Ocean tsunami is up and running, and Marine assessment teams have started to report their findings.
More than 115,000 people are estimated to have died in the tsunamis that struck on Christmas. U.S. forces are in the region to help the affected nations in whatever needs to be done.
The United States will deliver “as much help as soon as we can, as long as we’re needed,” said Navy Capt. Roger Welch, chief of U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Interagency Coordination Group in Hawaii.
U.S. ships and personnel are converging on the affected areas. Nine P-3 Orions are helping with aerial reconnaissance, 10 C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft are in the area and already have started delivering supplies, and three teams - in Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka - are helping local authorities with disaster assessments.
Eight pre-positioning systems are coming from Guam and Diego Garcia to deliver supplies to the hardest-hit areas. These ships contain 450,000 gallons of water and the capability of making 90,000 gallons of fresh water each day.
The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Battle Group is transiting through the Straits of Malacca now and will take up a position off the coast of Sumatra. The group will be well placed to provide support to the Indonesian province of Aceh. The Lincoln group will be there Dec. 31, said Navy officials.
The USS Bonhomme Richard Marine Strike Group left Guam and is sailing for a position off Sri Lanka. That group should arrive in a week, officials said.