Kearsarge Delivers 466 Metric Tons of Disaster Relief Supplies in Haiti

USS Kearsarge

USS Kearsarge

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 USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) delivered an estimated 114 metric tons of disaster relief supplies Sept. 12 as it continued its logistical support to remotes area of Haiti that have been heavily damaged by recent tropical storms and Hurricane Ike.

Overall, the Kearsarge mission in Haiti has delivered an estimated 466 metric tons of relief supplies in addition to 1,550 gallons of water.

On the fifth day of operations, pilots from Marine Heavy Helicopter (HMH) Squadron 464 flew 17 relief missions to Gonaives and Les Cayes delivering pre-packaged food items such as flour, beans, rice and high-energy biscuit.

“Haiti is in need of a lot of help in this very difficult time,” said Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, commander, U.S, 4th Fleet. “We are here working very closely with various organizations to bring Haiti what it needs to pull through this tragedy.”

Donning a pair of Navy coveralls, Kernan worked along side military personnel ashore offloading supplies. Several Sailors commented that seeing the admiral out there among the troops gave morale a big boost and made them want to do more.

In Gonaives, still largely cut off from the rest of Haiti, the water has begun to recede, nut mud and sediment remain in place. Kearsarge’s landing craft mechanized vessels are able to reach the port with relief supplies, and helicopters continue to make deliveries.

A northern port city, Gonaives has been described in news reports as “the worst of the worst on the scale of the death and destruction.” In 2004, Hurricane Jeanne hit the area killing 3,000 people and leveling much of the city. The last four years’ rebuilding effort has been destroyed once again by Hurricanes Hanna and Ike.

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.

The areas needing the most immediate assistance have been prioritized by U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

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

“Right now we’re developing a concept of operations on how we’re going to help out the country of Haiti,” said Capt. Fernandez “Frank” Ponds, mission commander for CP 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 citizen of Haiti begin to recover from this tragedy.”

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.

Kearsarge is expected to remain off the coast of Haiti for several days providing disaster relief as needed to support the local and national governments.

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