Navy, Marine, Coast Guard Units Ready to Support Florence Relief Effort
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The sea services have positioned personnel and ships, aircraft and other equipment to be ready to support relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which came ashore along the coast of North and South Carolina Sept. 14.
The Navy has staged the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington in the Atlantic behind the storm, according to a Sept. 14 release from Task Force 89. Navy aircraft embarked in the two ships include four MH-53 Sea Dragons and six MH-60 Seahawk helicopters. Three utility landing craft are embarked as well.
“The ships are also embarked with Disaster Recovery Teams from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202, which are specifically manned and equipped to provide damage assessments and conduct route and debris clearance,” the release said.
Marine Corps forces embarked in the ships include the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, which includes nearly 800 Marines, six MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, and three CH-53E Super Stallion and three UH-1Y Venom helicopters, along with ground vehicles, generators and other expeditionary equipment.
“These forces, led by Expeditionary Strike Group 2 and including Amphibious Squadron 6, comprise Command Task Force 89, which is capable of providing medium and heavy lift air support, search and rescue, maritime civil affairs, maritime security and expeditionary logistics support,” the release said.
The Coast Guard has set up a command post on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina, with 89 personnel assigned, commanded by Capt. Bion Stewart.
Coast Guard forces staged in North Carolina include six shallow water rescue boat teams staged “awaiting safe operational conditions before beginning search and rescue operations,” the Coast Guard said in a Sept. 14 release. “The teams are comprised of 48 people using 19 boats.”
Coast Guard search-and-rescue helicopters and patrol aircraft are staged in Savannah, Georgia; Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Clearwater, Florida; and Atlantic City, New Jersey, awaiting safe operational conditions before beginning rescue missions
“Other Coast Guard units, including small boat stations, are staged and awaiting safe operational conditions to begin search and rescue,” the release said.
“Once weather subsides and conditions become safe for first responders, we will begin search and rescue, focus on environmental impacts and begin the process to reopen our ports,” Stewart said.