USS Wasp Released from Hurricane Recovery; To Transfer to Seventh Fleet
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — A Navy amphibious assault ship has been released from hurricane recovery duty off Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and can resume its change of homeport to Japan as a unit of the the U.S. Seventh Fleet.
USS Wasp, along with USS Oak Hill, a dock landing ship, have been released from hurricane recovery duty, an Oct. 26 Defense Department (DoD) release.
Wasp is to transfer this year to the U.S. Seventh Fleet to its new homeport of Sasebo, Japan, where it will replace USS Bonhomme Richard as the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship. Wasp has been modified to operate the Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II strike fighter and will deploy in the Pacific region with six F-35Bs assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the Corps’ first operational F-35B squadron, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
“As part of the broader planning effort to transition from hurricane response to hurricane recovery, FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and DoD have assessed the need for continuing the use of certain support assets currently assigned to the territories,” the DoD release said. “Together, they have determined, in consultation with the governor of Puerto Rico, that some defense department assets are no longer needed. The USS Wasp and USS Oak Hill — two U.S. Navy ships — are some of the assets no longer needed. They have provided great value to the overall response effort, contributing search and rescue capabilities that saved lives. They are now proceeding on to their next missions in defense of our nation.
“The Wasp and Oak Hill’s principle contribution to the hurricane relief effort has been helicopter support,” the release said. “FEMA and DoD have determined there are sufficient land-based helicopters and tiltrotor lift capabilities in the territories to continue helping the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as they recover.”