USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry and USS Curtis Wilbur Arrive on Station to Help Philippine Mudslide Victims


Story Number: NNS060220-01Release Date: 2/20/2006 12:08:00 PM
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By Journalist 2nd Class Corey Truax, USS Essex Public Affairs

LEYTE, Republic of the Philippines (NNS) -- USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Joint Task Force (JTF) Balikatan arrived on station off the coast of Southern Leyte to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) Feb. 19 for victims of a recent mudslide there.

Essex and Harpers Ferry responded immediately to the Republic of the Philippines' request for humanitarian relief aid after the mudslide swept over the farming village Guinsahugon and two other nearby villages, about 420 miles southeast of Manila.

"We were sent to assist in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission because the crew and embarked Marines of the 31st MEU, JTF Balikatan are trained for this kind of mission," said Capt. Martin J. Keaney, Essex commanding officer.

Capt. Mark E. Donahue, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, the Task Group commander of the Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) flew over the area Feb. 19 and met with members of the Philippine military.

"We went to survey the area at the invitation of the Philippine government," said Donahue. "I discussed what we would be able to provide with members of the Philippine army task force coordinating relief efforts. We now have diggers on the ground to assist."

Essex, Harpers Ferry and Curtis Wilbur personnel are standing ready to assist.

"We are currently gathering onboard relief supplies, volunteers, linguists and other preparations to be ready to provide assistance while on station off of Leyte," added Keaney.

Both Essex and Harpers Ferry are part of the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, based out of Sasebo, Japan.

For related news, visit the USS Essex (LHD 2) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/lhd2/.

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RELATED PHOTOS
Aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), two CH-53E Super Stallions belonging to Marine Air Combat Element (HM) 262 depart the flight deck.
060219-N-2970T-018 Off the Coast of Southern Leyte, Republic of the Philippines (Feb. 19, 2006) - Aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), two CH-53E Super Stallions belonging to Marine Air Combat Element (HM) 262 depart the flight deck carrying Commodore Mark Donahue, Amphibious Squadron Eleven, and U.S. Marine Corps Col. Walter L. Miller, from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, to survey damage caused by a landslide on the Island of Leyte. Accompanying the survey team were Forty-eight U.S. Marines and digging equipment to immediately assist with the rescue efforts. Essex along with the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) are part of the Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, homeported in Sasebo, Japan. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Marvin E. Thompson Jr. (RELEASED)
February 18, 2006
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