ILOILO, Republic of the Philippines (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan and other U.S. Navy ships arrived on station near the central Philippine island of Panay June 25 to join the humanitarian assistance mission being led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the wake of damage caused by Typhoon Fengshen.
Rear Adm. Phil Wisecup, commander of the Navy ships, arrived on shore to meet with Lt. Gen. Ike Inserto, commander of AFP's Central Command, and other senior Philippine officers running the humanitarian assistance operation. Inserto and his senior commanders assessed the capabilities of the carrier and requested that the U.S. ships provide helicopter support to assist in delivering supplies to remote areas devastated by the typhoon.
A Philippine Air Force C-130 cargo plane arrived at Iloilo's Santa Barbara airport loaded with food supplies. Two C-2A Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft, two HH-60H Seahawk helicopters and one SH-60F Seahawk helicopter flying from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) delivered more than 12,000 bottles of fresh water and more than 7,500 lbs. of rice to the airport.
Helicopters from the Navy ships are standing by to deliver these supplies to outlying areas in Panay as directed by the AFP.
"We are here to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines," said Wisecup. "We feel a deep sense of regret for everyone who was affected by this tragedy, and we stand ready to support the AFP with anything we can do to help their efforts."
The ships on station in the Sulu Sea include the Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76); embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14; the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62); and three ships of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7; the guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Gridley (DDG 101) and the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43). Also providing assistance to the AFP in their efforts are the maritime prepositioning ship USNS Gunnery Sgt. Frank Stockham (T-AK 3017) and the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50), which have been assisting in the recovery operations of the sunken ferry Princess of the Stars.
Onboard the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, dozens of Sailors rapidly assembled into working parties and loaded the aircraft with water and rice once the AFP requested more supplies.
"Our Sailors are very eager to participate in this mission," said Capt. Kenneth Norton, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "We're here to help our friends in time of need."
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