Kearsarge Continues Haiti Relief, Begins Phase II of Recovery

USS Kearsarge

USS Kearsarge

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At the direction of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) began preparations for Phase II of its disaster relief efforts in Haiti Sept. 13.

Phase II includes medical and engineering projects, as well as the continued logistical support to remote areas of Haiti that have been heavily damaged by recent tropical storms and Hurricane Ike.

“So far, this operation has gone off perfectly because we have our best-trained military personnel involved. Everyone is willing to help; everyone wants to help,” said Capt. Fernandez “Frank” Ponds, commander U.S. Military Forces, Haiti.

“Our Sailors and embarked personnel know that the most important thing we can do right now is be here for the people of Haiti. Whether it’s delivering food and water supplies or working with USAID and the host nation to provide engineering and medical assessments , we will do what is necessary to help.”

On the sixth day of operations, pilots from Marine Heavy Helicopter (HMH) Squadron 464 flew six relief missions to Les Cayes and Jeremie, while landing craft vessels made runs to Gonaives, delivering an estimated 95 metric tons of pre-packaged food items such as flour, beans, rice and high-energy biscuit and 2,500 gallons of water.

Overall, the Kearsarge mission in Haiti has delivered an estimated 560 metric tons of relief supplies in addition to 4,050 gallons of water.

Engineers embarked aboard Kearsarge have met with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) engineers to assess damages to roads and critical infrastructure to determine what repairs can be made and which areas need the most help.

Kearsarge medical teams have met with representatives from the country team, Center for Disease Control and the Pan American Health Organization to discuss assessments and coordination of medical portions of the mission.

In the coming days, Kearsarge will continue to send supplies via helicopters and landing craft vessels to Gonaives, Port-de-Paix, Les Cayes, Jeremie, Jacmel and Saint Marc and other areas as requested by USAID.

The areas needing the most immediate assistance have been prioritized by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

Kearsarge Sailors and embarked units will also continue to integrate ashore assisting USAID, the UN’s World Food Program and other disaster relief agencies, loading and unloading supplies.

“The men and women of Team Continuing Promise are doing an exceptional job in providing much needed relief to the victims of hurricanes Hannah and Ike,” added Ponds. “They are a great bunch one and all, and I am extremely proud of their pride, professionalism and commitment. No finer group of men and women can be found, and I am privileged to have this opportunity to head this mission of compassion.”

Kearsarge is in the Caribbean supporting phase two of Continuing Promise (CP) 2008, a humanitarian assistance mission that includes assisting partner nations impacted by natural disasters and other emergencies resulting in human suffering or danger to human lives.

Any U.S. military assistance to a foreign nation must be requested by the host nation through the U.S. ambassador. Then, as the lead federal agent, USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance fields the request and asks the Department of Defense for military assistance, if needed.

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