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U.S. Navy Joins New Zealand Earthquake Relief

Originally scheduled to participate in the Royal New Zealand Navy’s International Naval Review commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy, USS Sampson (DDG 102) supported earthquake recovery efforts there at the request of the New Zealand government.

USS Sampson was already transiting the Western Pacific when it altered course to join the New Zealand-led task force efforts. Sampson’s visit to New Zealand is the first in 30 years for a U.S. Navy ship.

Nov. 20

USS Sampson entered Wellington Harbour, New Zealand, Nov. 20, in formation with ships from New Zealand, Australia and Canada after participating in earthquake relief efforts in Kaikoura, New Zealand.

Nov. 19

USS Sampson (DDG 102) and two embarked MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73 concluded relief effort support to the residents of Kaikoura, New Zealand, Nov. 19.

Over the two days, the helicopters completed 14 flights lifting 11,000 lbs. of equipment and supplies from HMNZS Canberra to the shore and also took the mayor of Kaikoura on a visual inspection tour of the surrounding area. The crew of Sampson supported transporting New Zealand citizens from Kaikoura to HMNZS Canterbury via the Sampson’s rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) and 26 Sailors went ashore and assisted in establishing a food distribution center, assisting in the cleanup efforts, and engaging with the local residents to assess their needs.

For more information, continue reading on Navy.mil.

KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 19, 2016) USS Sampson (DDG 102) on station off the coast of Kaikoura. At the request of the government of New Zealand, Sampson arrived off New Zealand’s South Island Nov. 17 to offer assistance to those affected by the recent earthquake. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of New Zealand Defence Force/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 19, 2016) USS Sampson (DDG 102) on station off the coast of Kaikoura. At the request of the government of New Zealand, Sampson arrived off New Zealand’s South Island Nov. 17 to offer assistance to those affected by the recent earthquake. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of New Zealand Defence Force/Released)

Nov. 18

Sailors assigned to USS Sampson flew ashore Nov. 18 to support New Zealand forces in rendering assistance to residents. Eighteen members of the Sampson crew, with backgrounds in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, damage control and medical treatment departed in waves aboard the ship’s helicopters from Sampson off the coast, eager to lend a hand. 

For more information, continue reading on Navy.mil.

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“This morning, I accompanied Mayor Winston Gray on an aerial tour of his town in one of the helicopters assigned to Sampson.”
– Cmdr. Tim LaBenz
Commanding officer, USS Sampson

KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) Winston Gray, the mayor of Kaikoura, accompanied by Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, commanding officer of USS Sampson (DDG 102), prepares to embark an MH-60R Sea Hawk to conduct an aerial survey of damage in the area. HSM-73 is attached to Sampson, which at the request of the government of New Zealand, remains off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island to offer assistance to those affected by the recent earthquake. (New Zealand Defence Force photo by CPL Amanda McErlich)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) Winston Gray, the mayor of Kaikoura, accompanied by Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, commanding officer of USS Sampson (DDG 102), prepares to embark an MH-60R Sea Hawk to conduct an aerial survey of damage in the area. HSM-73 is attached to Sampson, which at the request of the government of New Zealand, remains off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island to offer assistance to those affected by the recent earthquake. (New Zealand Defence Force photo by CPL Amanda McErlich)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) An MH-60R Sea Hawk attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73 takes off from a staging area in Kaikoura. HSM-73 is operating from USS Sampson (DDG 102), which at the request of the government of New Zealand, remains off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island to offer assistance to those affected by the recent earthquake. (New Zealand Defence Force photo by CPL Amanda McErlich)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) An MH-60R Sea Hawk attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73 takes off from a staging area in Kaikoura. HSM-73 is operating from USS Sampson (DDG 102), which at the request of the government of New Zealand, remains off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island to offer assistance to those affected by the recent earthquake. (New Zealand Defence Force photo by CPL Amanda McErlich)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (right), commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), and Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray survey the damage to local infrastructure in a MH-60R Sea Hawk from the Battle Cats of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 73, attached to USS Sampson (DDG 102). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (right), commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), and Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray survey the damage to local infrastructure in a MH-60R Sea Hawk from the Battle Cats of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 73, attached to USS Sampson (DDG 102). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (right), commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) speaks with Ministry of Business Rapid Building Assessor Warren Batchelar. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (right), commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) speaks with Ministry of Business Rapid Building Assessor Warren Batchelar. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (middle) commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), speaks with Royal New Zealand, Australian and Canadian Navy officers during a humanitarian aid brief. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (middle) commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), speaks with Royal New Zealand, Australian and Canadian Navy officers during a humanitarian aid brief. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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“While viewing sobering images of widespread infrastructural damage, I was also reminded and encouraged by the sight of my Sailors going ashore with an unwavering can-do spirit that assures me we are doing our part in supporting the New Zealand forces.”
– Cmdr. Tim LaBenz
Commanding officer, USS Sampson

KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) bring supplies to Kaikoura High School. Sampson, at the request of the government of New Zealand, remains off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island to offer assistance to those affected by the recent earthquake. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 18, 2016) Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) bring supplies to Kaikoura High School. Sampson, at the request of the government of New Zealand, remains off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island to offer assistance to those affected by the recent earthquake. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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Nov. 17

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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Petty Officer First Class Hadley Dykes, left, surveys the landing area from a MH-60R Sea Hawk from the Battle Cats of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) squadron 73, attached to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Petty Officer First Class Hadley Dykes, left, surveys the landing area from a MH-60R Sea Hawk from the Battle Cats of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 73, attached to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Seaman Jordan Russell surveys the coastline from a MH-60R Sea Hawk from the Battle Cats of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 73, attached to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Seaman Jordan Russell surveys the coastline from a MH-60R Sea Hawk from the Battle Cats of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 73, attached to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), receives a traditional greeting from New Zealand parliament member the Hon. Ron Mark. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), receives a traditional greeting from New Zealand parliament member the Hon. Ron Mark. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (middle) commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), speaks with New Zealand parliament member the Hon. Ron Mark (left) before a humanitarian aid brief. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (middle) commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), speaks with New Zealand parliament member the Hon. Ron Mark (left) before a humanitarian aid brief. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (middle) commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), speaks with Royal New Zealand, Australian and Canadian Navy officers during a humanitarian aid brief. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz (middle) commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), speaks with Royal New Zealand, Australian and Canadian Navy officers during a humanitarian aid brief. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), speaks with New Zealand Defense Force media after a humanitarian aid brief. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
KAIKOURA, New Zealand (Nov. 17, 2016) Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), speaks with New Zealand Defense Force media after a humanitarian aid brief. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
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WHENUAPAI, New Zealand (Nov. 15, 2016) Lt. j.g. Shane Lewis, with the Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47, examines a chart of New Zealand with an airman from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The VP-47 crew and their U.S. Navy P-3C Orion aircraft are assisting in life-saving efforts after the Nov. 13 earthquakes on the South Island of New Zealand. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g Kyle Burdick/Released)
WHENUAPAI, New Zealand (Nov. 15, 2016) Lt. j.g. Shane Lewis, with the Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47, examines a chart of New Zealand with an airman from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The VP-47 crew and their U.S. Navy P-3C Orion aircraft are assisting in life-saving efforts after the Nov. 13 earthquakes on the South Island of New Zealand. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g Kyle Burdick/Released)

Also, a P-3C Orion assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 was participating in Exercise Mahi Tangaroa as part of the New Zealand International Naval Review when the earthquake occurred, and was tasked with assessing the area surrounding Kaikoura, New Zealand.

During its five-hour mission Nov. 15, the VP-47 aircrew – accompanied by two Royal New Zealand Air Force airmen – identified impassable roads covered in debris. Additionally, they assessed bridges that were cracked and buckling due to damage by the earthquake.

“Both our aircrew and our aircraft maintainers understand the urgency of these missions and are working around the clock to provide maritime patrol and humanitarian support to the people of New Zealand.”
– Cmdr. Jim Imlah
Executive officer, VP-47

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