Seventh Fleet forces continue support of Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) in Operation Tomodachi. With Sendai airport now open for military flights – and soon to be opened for commercial flights as well — 7th Fleet’s focus has shifted to harbor clearance, consolidating relief supplies at airfields ashore, and preparing to assist with clean-up of debris.
Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Lieutenant General Eiji Kimizuka, Commanding General of Joint Task Force Tohoku in charge of the ground recovery efforts, met with sailors on board the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the USS Essex (LHD 2) today. Lieutenant General Kimizuka journeyed to Reagan and Essex to meet with the Sailors of those ships to express his gratitude for their efforts in Operation Tomodachi. The Reagan, Essex, and their supporting ships have conducted distribution of relief supplies, conducted aerial surveillance flights to identify groups of survivors and survey damage, cleared obstructions in ports to allow shipping to resume, and transported vehicles, personnel and supplies in support of the Japan Self Defense Forces. Foul weather prevented General Kimizuka from returning to Sendai by helicopter as planned this evening, so he is remaining overnight on Essex, breaking his flag and making Essex the flagship — albeit temporarily — for Japan’s JTF Tohoku.
USNS Safeguard (ARS 50) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46), Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 and Underwater Construction Team 2 conducted additional survey and obstacle identification operations at the port of Miyako. Tortuga launched Landing Craft Unit 1627 (LCU) equipped with side scan sonar and surveyed approximately four square kilometers of the port. Divers visually surveyed the areas of the port and identified and marked for salvage more than 80 obstacles over a 48 hour period. Today, Captain Thomas Shaw, CTF 76 Deputy, Commander of CTF 76’s Port Clearance Group and USS Tortuga commanding officer Commander Rob DuBuse visited with port officials onboard the USNS Safeguard to discuss the progress of port clearance operations in Miyako. The survey and obstacle identification efforts will wrap up tomorrow, after which Safeguard and Tortuga will depart for the port of Oshima for salvage and port clearance activities there.
Sailors and Marines from the USS Essex (LHD 2) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Japan Ground Self Defense Forces continued preparations for Operation “Field Day”, a clearing and clean up mission on the remote island of Oshima off the coast of Kessennuma. Tomorrow, four Humvees, a dump truck, a water truck and a fuel truck will embark two LCUs for movement to Oshima harbor and assistance with debris clearance activities in the port as well as local schools and government buildings. The island, which is dependent upon ferry service from the mainland, has been isolated since March 11 when the tsunami washed its ferries ashore.
One U.S. Navy barge containing 300,000 gallons of fresh water is moored at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, and the second containing an additional 200,000 gallons is expected to arrive tomorrow. Japanese authorities will use the fresh water to replace salt water currently in some of the reactors.
USNS Richard E. Byrd (USNS (T-AKE 4) conducted resupply at sea (RAS) activities with the USS Essex (LPD 2), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) to resupply those ships with needed stores and also to retrieve HA/DR supplies located on those ships. Byrd also conducted a consolation exercise with USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10). All HADR supplies are being consolidated aboard the Byrd for transport to Yokosuka for further distribution as necessary by the Japan Ground Self Defense Force.
Two P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft which were involved in Operation Tomodachi have returned to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, after having conducted 25 sorties and 138 hours of on-station flying time conducting aerial surveillance to identify groups of isolated persons, survey damage, and locate floating debris. All information gathered from these flights was shared with the Japan Self Defense Forces.
Currently 16 ships, 130 aircraft and 12,935 personnel are actively engaged in operation Tomodachi. Those ships include USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50), USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Shiloh (CG 67), USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4), USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10), USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USNS Mathew Perry (T-AKE 9) and USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204).
Since Operation Tomodachi started, U.S. 7th Fleet forces have delivered more than 250 tons of relief supplies to survivors of the tsunami and earthquake in support of Japan Self Defense Force efforts.
Posts Tagged ‘USS Harpers Ferry’
Seventh Fleet forces continued support of Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) via Operation Tomodachi. With Sendai airport reopened for military flights, and with all known groups of isolated persons now being serviced from JSDF and local authorities ashore, 7th Fleet’s focus has shifted to harbor clearance and consolidation of remaining relief supplies to Sendai airport for distribution, while staying poised to respond as needed.
USNS Safeguard (ARS 50) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46), Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 and Underwater Construction Team 2 anchored in the port of Miyako today in preparation for port clearance operations. Tortuga launched a Landing Craft Unit (LCU) equipped with side scan sonar to survey the port. The side scan sonar provides detailed visuals of the harbor area to identify and prioritize dive sites for clearing. The port of Miyako was severely impacted by the tsunami of March 11 with commercial and pleasure craft sunk, concrete pier pilings washed ashore, and one complete pier destroyed. Navy teams are working with the JSDF and local authorities to coordinate similar efforts in the port of Oshima after completion of operations at Miyako.
Helicopters from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 moved 154 pallets of relief supplies from USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) to the Misawa, where they will moved via C-130 aircraft to Sendai. From there, U.S. and Japan Ground Self Defense Forces (JGSDF) will distribute the items to disaster areas as needed. The JGSDF has opened most roads in the disaster areas, and are able to move most goods to displaced persons via ground transportation. In a separate effort, USS Essex (LHD 2) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) also moved 3 pallets of hygienic supplies to the JS Hyuga (DDH 161) which included soap, towels, diapers and other assorted items.
A P-3 “Orion” aircraft from the Snapdragons of Patrol Squadron Four (VP-4) conducted a search and rescue flight off the Tohoku coast to search for debris or objects at sea that could interfere with shipping. The aircraft spotted two boats adrift, approx. 20 and 60 feet in length, adrift and immediately reported their positions to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and Japan Coast Guard so they could be retrieved.
The first of two U.S. Navy barges containing 500,000 gallons of fresh water from Commander, Facilities Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) was moved to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant today. The second will arrive tomorrow. Japanese authorities will use the fresh water to replace salt water currently in the reactors.
USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship for the United States Seventh Fleet, is on station near Okinawa providing command and control for U.S. Navy efforts during the crisis. Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, has been designated as the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander for U.S. relief efforts in Operation Tomodachi.
Currently 17 ships, 132 aircraft and 13,747 personnel are actively engaged in operation Tomodachi. Those ships include USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50), USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Shiloh (CG 67), USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10), USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7), USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4).
Since Operation Tomodachi started, U.S. 7th Fleet forces have delivered more than 250 tons of relief supplies to survivors of the tsunami and earthquake, in support of Japan Self Defense Force efforts.
The piers were completely empty in Yokosuka today, marking the first time in memory that not a single U.S. Navy ship was in port. The men and women of U.S. 7th Fleet were at sea focused on Operation Tomodachi, delivering relief to the people of northeast Honshu. A total of 19 ships, 140 aircraft and 19,703 Sailors and Marines of the U.S. 7th Fleet continued to conduct relief operations. To date the Navy has made 349 deliveries of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies to 84 landing sites.
In the last 12 hours, the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to include USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Mustin (DDG 89) and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) along with USS Cowpens (CG-63) and USS Shiloh (CG-67) along with USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Tortuga (LSD 46) along with USS Essex (LHD 2) delivered 23 tons of HADR supplies via various helicopters to the hard hit area of near Hachinohe.
Both the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Essex conducted replenishment today with the USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) to receive more HADR supplies, provisions and fuel.
Sailors and Marines aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Preble (DDG 88) and the ships from Destroyer Squadron 15 collected personal donations from the crews to supply displaced Japanese citizens with essential goods for survival. The items were transported to various landing zones throughout the Aomori Prefecture by crew members of embarked Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4. More than 100 blankets, 237 pants, 450 shirts, 311 jackets and sweaters, 748 pairs of socks, 154 towels, 57 pairs of shoes, 166 undergarments, 76 hats, 8 scarves, and 34 pairs of gloves were donated in just a few hours. Sailors even donated over 20 stuffed animals for children.
Commander Task Force 76 developed port clearance plans for the Hachinohe port. USNS Safeguard is enroute Hachinohe to assist the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force with clearing debris from the port.
USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship for the United States Seventh Fleet, remains in the vicinity of Okinawa to conduct transfers of supplies and personnel to augment the staff.
USS George Washington is operating at sea near Shikoku. USS Lassen is proceeding towards Sasebo where it will continue its maintenance availability.
Families of Seventh Fleet Sailors are continuing to voluntarily depart Yokosuka and Atsugi as part of the Military Assisted Departure for Department of Defense personnel. U.S. Pacific Command leader Adm. Robert Willard addressed residents at a town hall meeting in Yokosuka this evening.
Members of a radiological assistance team landed aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) to assist in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) efforts March 19.
The team, consisting of 21 military and civilian personnel, comprise of personnel from Guam, Puget Sound, Wash., Norfolk, Va., and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Naval Ship Yards. Under the command of Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, the director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion and Deputy Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Naval Reactors, they will disperse to provide assistance to Essex, USS Harper’s Ferry (LSD 49), and USS Germantown (LSD 42). Their mission is to check for radiation on the aircraft and personnel of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) who go on the HADR missions to ensure they are not exposed to any radiation.
“We will be monitoring flight crews and any passengers that go out to the affected zones in Honshu,” said George Bowyer, a radiological physical science technician.
“We will be looking for any signs of radioactivity on the people and planes that return back to the ship from their missions,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class (SW) Wade Gerloff, a radiological control technician. “If we find any signs of radioactivity, we will remove and prevent the spread to others on the ship.”
Among the equipment they brought aboard to help them perform their job are radiac survey meters, portable air samplers, and personal dosimetry. Each piece of equipment serves instrumental in helping the team perform their mission.
“The radiac survey meter monitors for radiation,” said Carlos Soto, a radiological control technician. “The portable air sampler takes samples and tests for radiation in the air. The personal dosimetry monitors for radiation a person may have been exposed to. These personal devices will be given to flight crews and random ship personnel. We use the data to see how much radiation each person may have been exposed to.”
While providing humanitarian assistance is the main objective of the crew, ensuring the safety of the men and women performing these humanitarian missions is the main objective of the radiological assessment control team.
“The safety of the crew is our first priority,” said Essex Commanding Officer David Fluker. “Without having a healthy crew in this environment, we can’t do our job.”
The Essex ARG, commanded by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 Capt. Bradley Lee, is comprised of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship Essex and the dock landing ships Harpers Ferry, Germantown, and USS Tortuga (LSD 46). Essex is currently off the coast of Japan to conduct HADR operations as directed in support of Operation Tomodachi.
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Johnie Hickmon
Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo Japan on Facebook
Ships of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived off the northeast coast of Honshu, Japan, March 20 to provide humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HADR) in support of Operation Tomodachi.
Shortly after arriving, two UH-1N Huey helicopters from the 31st MEU conducted surveys of the Hachinohe coastline to determine what areas were damaged, which roads could be used, and where Japanese nationals might be in need of assistance.
“The initial needs of the Japanese appear to be route clearance and debris removal,” said Lt. Justin Jomoto, Amphibious Squadron 11 future operations officer.
After conducting a vertical replenishment with USNS Matthew C. Perry (T-AKE 9) on March 21, the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) launched four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters from the 31st MEU to deliver 800 gallons of potable water and 768 blankets ashore.
“I am extremely impressed with the performance of our Navy/Marine Corps team aboard Essex,” said Capt. David Fluker, commanding officer of USS Essex. “We were able to begin delivering water ashore today to our Japanese friends in need. The Essex team continues to stand ready to deliver whatever support is needed.”
With more than 150 amphibious vehicles and 20 aircraft, the MEU is able to provide extensive distribution services by ground and air. Amphibious Squadron 11 is also capable of providing meals ready to eat, fresh water and bilingual personnel to assist in communication between U.S. service members and Japanese citizens.
“The 31st MEU brings a tremendous amount of capabilities to this situation. Our MEU is configured ideally to support humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, 31st MEU commanding officer. “Our Marine and Navy team can support delivery of resources through air, ground, or maritime platforms. We have medical staff, water production abilities, distribution resources, engineer assets, and much more to be able to help people who are suffering.”
ARG ships are capable of carrying out a variety of HADR operations using helicopters assigned to the 31st MEU and the Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 or amphibious craft assigned to Beach Master Unit One and Assault Craft Unit One.
“We have put ashore a forward command element at Sendai and liaison officers at the maritime response cell located at Yokota to liaison with host nation headquarters, in order to establish lines of communication, provide situational awareness and potential HADR tasking,” said Jomoto.
Each ship can provide fresh water, medical contingency support, search and rescue support, heavy lift capabilities and transportation via amphibious crafts.
The ARG can also use amphibious craft to transport Marines and supplies to the beach, as well as any victims back to the ship. Landing craft, air cushions can carry up to 23 people, while landing craft utilities can carry as many as 400. The ARG and the Marines of the 31st MEU are expected to focus their efforts in the vicinity of Miyako using its heavy-lift helicopters to deliver relief items ashore.
The Essex ARG is comprised of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and the dock landing ships USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46).
USS Tortuga (LSD 46) is off the coast of Hachinohe serving as an afloat forward service base for helicopter operations. Two MH-53s from HM-14 picked up and delivered 15 tons of supplies from Misawa Air Base to Yamagata Station. It is also expected to conduct a replenishment with USNS Matthew Perry. Matthew Perry is carrying 189 pallets of humanitarian supplies which it will deliver to the Essex ARG and Reagan Strike Group over the next few days.
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Eva-Marie Ramsaran
Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo Japan on Facebook