ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, Amphibious Squadron 7, Capt. Michelle J. Howard met with Singaporean naval officers Jan. 9 to make preparations for the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (BHR) (LHD 6) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) to provide humanitarian relief missions off the coast of Sumatra.
Howard first met with the Joint Humanitarian Assistance Task Force Commander, Col. Tan Chaun-Jin, of Singapore's Armed Forces, to learn more about the situation ashore and coordinate humanitarian efforts.
"We also met with the commanding officer of the Singapore ship RSS Endurance (L 207), Lt. Col. Li Lit Siew. They actually deployed Dec. 31. to provide relief here, which is remarkable because it was five days after the tsunami," said Howard. "They laid the groundwork for the Indonesians, and they have been working with the relief efforts ever since."
Meulaboh, a coastal town in western Sumatra, was isolated from the surrounding areas by the massive tsunami waves, and this is where the relief efforts began.
"There are a lot of ships from different nations around Meulaboh, providing hope and assistance," Howard said. "It's amazing to see dozens of countries working together to provide relief, not to mention dozens of world organizations like Red Cross, Red Crescent and the World Health Organization," she added.
BHR is playing a key role in this international effort and continues to provide humanitarian assistance to tsunami victims on Sumatra.
"I think that the average American is taking great pride in the relief efforts we are providing," Howard said. "We have a history of providing hope and comfort."
Bonhomme Richard and other ships and Marine Corps units attached to Amphibious Squadron 7 and Expeditionary Strike Group 5 are conducting humanitarian assistance operations off the coast of Sumatra in support of Operation Unified Assistance.
For related news on Navy tsunami relief operations, visit the Focus on Tsunami Relief Operations page at www.navy.mil/local/tsunami.
For related news, visit the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/lhd6.