Kearsarge Delivers More Relief Supplies to Haiti
American Forces Press Service
GULF OF GONÂVES, Haiti, Sept. 15, 2008 The amphibious ship USS Kearsarge delivered an estimated 114 metric tons of disaster relief supplies Sept. 12 as it continued its logistical support to remote communities in Haiti affected by recent tropical storms and Hurricane Ike.
To date, Kearsarge missions in Haiti have delivered an estimated 466 metric tons of relief supplies.
On the fifth day of operations, CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter crews flew 17 relief missions to Gonaives and Les Cayes, delivering pre-packaged food items such as flour, beans, rice and high-energy biscuits.
In Gonaives, still largely cut off from the rest of Haiti, the water has begun to recede, but mud and sediment remain. The ship's landing craft are reaching the city's port with relief supplies, and its helicopters continue to make deliveries.
The northern port city of Gonaives was hit particularly hard by recent storms, resulting in many deaths and large-scale destruction to vital infrastructure.
In the coming days, Kearsarge will continue to send supplies via helicopters and landing craft to Gonaives, Port-de-Paix, Les Cayes, Jeremie, Jacmel and Saint Marc. The U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has prioritized areas needing immediate assistance, officials said.
Kearsarge sailors and embarked units also continue to integrate ashore assisting USAID, the United Nations’ World Food Program and other disaster relief agencies, loading and unloading supplies.
"Haiti is in need of a lot of help in this very difficult time," said Navy Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and the U.S. 4th Fleet. "We are here working very closely with various organizations to bring Haiti what it needs to pull through this tragedy."
On Sept. 12, Kernan personally joined the effort, working alongside military personnel ashore offloading supplies.
Kearsarge is expected to remain off the coast of Haiti for several days.
"Right now we're developing a concept of operations on how we're going to help out the country of Haiti," said Navy Capt. Fernandez "Frank" Ponds, mission commander for Continuing Promise 2008. "We do that by talking to people who are in country, USAID, OFDA, and others who are planning relief support. Our goal is to help the citizens of Haiti begin to recover from this tragedy."
(From a U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet news release.)