Your Questions Answered about the Navy’s Typhoon Haiyan Relief

On Monday, we asked on the Navy’s Facebook page for questions about the Navy’s Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. Thank you to everyone who submitted a question! Below are some of the questions we received and their answers.

Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) load relief supplies in Tacloban, Philippines, onto an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter from the Saberhawks of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 to be airlifted to local villages during Operation Damayan, Nov. 17, 2013. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group in coordination with the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade is assisting the Philippine government in ongoing relief efforts in response to the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chris Cavagnaro/Released)

Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) load relief supplies in Tacloban, Philippines, onto an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter from the Saberhawks of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 to be airlifted to local villages during Operation Damayan, Nov. 17, 2013. The George Washington Carrier Strike Group in coordination with the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade is assisting the Philippine government in ongoing relief efforts in response to the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chris Cavagnaro/Released)

 

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All support the U.S. Navy provides is part of the broader U.S. Government relief efforts in response to the Philippines’ request for humanitarian assistance. Missions like Operation Damayan are what we train for, and we see helping others as an investment in the security, stability, peace and prosperity throughout the region. Helicopter aid missions include more than 20 aircraft, which continue to deliver water and relief supplies to remote areas – that is our number one priority. As of Nov. 19, more than 417,800 liters of water and approximately 290,000 pounds of food and dry goods have been provided to displaced personnel. Aircraft have flown a total of 656 flight hours, and the Navy has helped 724 distressed passengers.


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Nineteen members from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) Civic Construction Action Detail (CCAD) are in Puerto Princesa, Philippines and are in position to provide humanitarian assistance/distance relief support if it is requested from the Government of the Philippines.


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USNS Mercy will remain pierside in an activated status, fully ready to deploy if called upon. At this point, there is no intent to get the ship underway from San Diego until the Department of Defense and Department of State, in conjunction with our allies in the Philippines, determine these capabilities are needed.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet activated USNS Mercy as a prudent measure in the event that the Government of the Philippines and USAID deemed that the scope and scale of the relief efforts necessitated the robust capabilities our hospital ship provides. The activation decision was made early in the crisis, before the medical situation was completely known due the time required to prepare the ship for sea, and transit to the affected area.

Considering the devastation left by the typhoon, the Government of the Philippines has done a herculean job of organizing all of the international relief assets that have responded to their request for assistance. The medical situation in the Philippines overall and in Tacloban, specifically, is improving with the establishments of field hospitals and with the inflow of international support – this includes the amphibious ships USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Ashland (LSD 48), which just arrived on-scene. Now that the medical situation in the Philippines is clearer, we will keep USNS Mercy in an increased readiness status until the Department of Defense and Department of State are satisfied her capabilities will not be required.

Shifting Mercy from a reduced operating status to fully ready to deploy in a matter of days is a testament to the responsiveness and expertise of the Military Sealift Command, our Navy medical corps, and the shipyard civilian workforce in San Diego. Thanks to their team efforts, USNS Mercy will maintain activated status as long as is required.


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USS George Washington leaders met with Republic of Philippine Navy Vice Commander Rear Admiral Jaime Bernadino Nov. 18 in a very productive meeting on board the aircraft carrier. They discussed the ongoing transition from the U.S. Navy’s initial emergency response role with aircraft carrier and helicopter support, to the role for USS Ashland and USS Germantown to assist the long-term relief efforts. Current information from the Government of the Philippines is there is less demand for air support from USS George Washington and the carrier will likely be desired for another two days or so, with the Germantown and Ashland assuming the lead in relief duties.


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USNS Emory S. Land is offering (through appropriate channels) the following:

  1. To assess a water treatment plant in Tacloban and determine needed repairs
  2. Assist military personnel at the airport in cleanup
  3. Conduct repairs to equipment at the airport and flight tower.

The ship is one of two Navy submarine tenders, operated by a hybrid crew of U.S Navy Sailors and civil service mariners.