USNS Spearhead Assists in Humanitarian Aid for St. Martin


Story Number: NNS170920-06Release Date: 9/20/2017 8:14:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristen Cheyenne Yarber, Southern Partnership Station 17 Public Affairs

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten (NNS) -- Expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) arrived at the island of St. Martin Sept. 16, 2017, to assist in disaster relief efforts for persons affected by Hurricane Irma, during Southern Partnership Station 17 (SPS 17).

Operating as part of Joint Task Force Leeward Islands (JTF-LWI), Spearhead traveled to the Caribbean nation to support the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, which led humanitarian assistance efforts.

After offloading the SPS 17 adaptive force package troops and equipment in Guatemala, Spearhead stopped at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to load supplies for the relief mission Sept. 12.

Upon arrival at St. Martin, Sailors and civil service mariners offloaded 1,000 meals, ready to eat (MREs) and 81,000 bottles of water from the ship's mission bay, to the pier.

St. Martin sustained significant damage after Hurricane Irma passed over the island's landmass. The hurricane struck as a category five storm, causing widespread destruction of the country's infrastructure. Irma was the first major hurricane to hit the island in 22 years.

"At least one third of all the buildings were destroyed," said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Mason Joyner, assigned to the military detachment embarked aboard Spearhead. "The electricity was out, and [potable] water was unavailable because they couldn't make their own water."

While St. Martin is slowly recovering, the demand for basic necessities remains. "Our main needs now are water and canned goods," said Ardwell Iriom, a member of St. Martin's parliament.

Iriom said there were teams of volunteers ready to distribute supplies to those in need, making deliveries, such as those by the Spearhead, greatly appreciated.

"I want to thank the USA and the Navy and Marines for supporting our island," said Iriom. "We really appreciate all the support we are getting internationally."

Iriom also said although there is devastation across St. Martin, the support they are receiving will help them rebuild from the effects of the storm and become even stronger.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central, and South American regions.


For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil, http://www.facebook.com/usnavy, or http://www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

 
RELATED PHOTOS
Citizens from the island of Sint Maarten load their vehicle with boxes containing military field rations, known as MRE or meals, ready to eat, offloaded from the expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1).
170916-N-KW679-0571 PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten (Sept. 16, 2017) Citizens from the island of Sint Maarten load their vehicle with boxes containing military field rations, known as MRE or meals, ready to eat, offloaded from the expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1). Spearhead is in port to assist in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in areas affected by Hurricane Irma. Spearhead is participating in Southern Partnership Station 2017, a U.S. Navy deployment executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristen Cheyenne Yarber/Released)
September 19, 2017
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