By Rear Adm. John Kirby, Chief of Information
There have been a number of media reports today discussing the Navy’s role in providing support to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. I wanted to take a minute to clean things up a bit. Right now, the only official tasking the Navy has received is to provide contract support in obtaining industrial size pumps for the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to dewater areas of New York City.
It is true that the Navy is moving ships to be closer to the areas affected by the hurricane; however these ships have not been officially tasked to provide support.
Yesterday, the helicopter carrier USS Wasp (LHD 1), which was already at sea riding out the storm, began to head north to be better positioned. And today the Fleet Commander ordered two other amphibious ships, USS San Antonio (LPD-17) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50), to get underway and likewise head north.
These decisions provide national and local decision makers maximum flexibility and options should there be a need for Navy support. Most importantly, this will allow our forces to be best postured to minimize the amount of time it will take these forces to get on station if tasked.
Any and all such support will be coordinated through U.S. Northern Command. While the military plays an important role in disaster response, all our efforts are in support of FEMA first and foremost.