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.
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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.
A total of 12,750 personnel, 20 ships, and 140 aircraft of U.S. 7th Fleet are continuing to participate in Operation Tomodachi. Today, utilizing 14 helicopters, the fleet delivered more than 47 tons of relief supplies bringing the total of aid delivered to Japan since the beginning of the crisis to 227 tons.
USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Tortuga (LSD 46) along with USS Essex (LHD 2) and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are off the coast near Hachinohe to assist humanitarian aid efforts along the affected northeastern coast to reach people in remote areas where the tsunami hit hardest. Ships of the Essex ARG conducted underway replenishment today with the USNS Matthew Perry.
Helicopters with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st MEU, flew two CH-46 helicopters from the USS Essex to deliver humanitarian aid supplies including blankets and fresh water to Miyako city. The pilots also conducted aerial surveys of 200 miles of the affected coastline between Miyako and Ofunato.
A P-3 from VP-4 deployed to Misawa conducted reconnaissance of coastal areas to continue the search for displaced people and to find new landing zones to service them.
USS George Washington got underway from Yokosuka today to assure the ship can sustain a state of readiness in the long term for the defense of Japan. The forward deployed carrier is scheduled to remain in the local waters off Japan. Moving USS George Washington is a precaution given the capabilities of the vessel and the complex nature of this disaster. USS Lassen also departed Yokosuka today.
The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to include USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Mustin (89) and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) along with USS Cowpens (CG-63) and USS Shiloh (CG-67) continued operations north of Sendai. Strike group helicopters carried 17 tons of supplies to 24 separate sites, and identified 16 additional sites where groups of people are isolated to be serviced with supplies in the coming days. Aircrews report that people on the ground are particularly interested in receiving shipments of gasoline, kerosene or diesel fuel.
USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship for the United States Seventh Fleet, conducted a connected replenishment with USNS Pecos today in the vicinity of Nagasaki.
The commander, U.S. Pacific Command, directed that precautionary measures be taken due to the potential of future radiological exposures, including directing the distribution of potassium iodide (KI) tablets to military personnel and their families in Yokosuka and Atsugi. Personnel in Yokosuka and Atsugi will not actually take KI unless advised to do so by U.S. or Japanese authorities. Seventh Fleet personnel conducting disaster relief missions inside of 100 nautical miles from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant continue to take KI as a precautionary measure.
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.
Seventh Fleet forces continued sustainment of life efforts in support of Operation Tomodachi. A total of 12,750 personnel, 20 ships, and 140 aircraft are participating in Operation Tomodachi. Seventh Fleet forces have delivered more than 126 tons of relief supplies to date.
The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to include the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, the destroyer USS Preble, the guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald, USS John S. McCain, USS McCampbell, USS Mustin and USS Curtis Wilbur, along with the cruisers USS Cowpens and USS Shiloh, continue operations at sea north of Sendai.
Helicopters delivered more than 16 tons to 15 different sites today, including isolated areas and remote islands off the coast of Sendai.
F/A-18s conducted two aerial reconnaissance missions using the Shared Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP). To date, they have taken and carefully reviewed over 61,000 images to look for “SOS” or other distress signs, or groups of isolated people. The imagery is being shared with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.
The USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), to include USS Germantown and USS Harpers Ferry and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are in the vicinity of Hachinohe, and will relocate to the vicinity of Ofunato and Kamaishi ports to conduct humanitarian relief operations using their embarked heavy-lift helicopters and amphibious craft to carry relief supplies ashore. The ships carry a total of four CH-53E, 12 CH-46, and 2 MH-60 helicopters.
USS Tortuga is operating in the vicinity of Hachinohe. It will conduct a replenishment with the USNS Matthew Perry tomorrow. Matthew Perry is carrying 189 pallets of humanitarian supplies which it will deliver to the Essex ARG and Reagan Strike Group over the coming days.
One P-3 aircraft from VP-4 in Misawa conducted a reconnaissance mission today of area ports to assess the condition and share information with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.
USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship for the United States Seventh Fleet, is operating in the vicinity of Nagasaki. It will conduct a replenishment with USNS Pecos tomorrow.
All Seventh Fleet ships, including USS George Washington and USS Lassen which are currently conducting maintenance in Yokosuka, are increasing their readiness posture in order to be prepared to conduct any tasking ordered. Carrier Airwing Five fixed wing aircraft have relocated to Guam in order to free ramp space at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.
Families of Seventh Fleet Sailors in Yokosuka and Atsugi have started to depart voluntarily as part of the Military Assisted Departure for Department of Defense personnel.