PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Four U.S. Navy ships and elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 18 to support Operation Unified Response, a joint military relief effort launched in response to the earthquake that struck the island nation eight days ago.
The Amphibious Relief Mission vessels - USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and USS Gunston Hall (LHD 44) - along with Marines from the 22nd MEU will immediately begin to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to help stabilize the region in the wake of the disaster.
"Our Sailors and Marines have worked around the clock from the outset of this terrible tragedy and are now in a position to go ashore and begin establishing distribution of relief supplies," said Capt. Thomas M. Negus, commander of the Amphibious Relief force.
The Navy and Marine Corps began flying reconnaissance and assessment flights as the ships approached the coast Jan. 18.
"We witnessed first-hand the destruction that exists and the desperate need for relief," said Capt. Sam Howard, commanding officer of the USS Bataan (LHD 5). "We're now on station and part of the international effort that will contribute to sustainable relief for the people of Haiti."
Bataan uses air cushion landing craft, conventional landing craft and helicopters for its primary mission of moving Marines ashore, but Bataan's inherent capabilities and complement of assets make it ideal for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. Bataan's medical capabilities are second only to U.S. Navy hospital ships and include more than 50 medical professionals as well as X-ray facilities, operating rooms, an intensive care unit, pharmacy, and laboratory.
The MEU will enhance the humanitarian relief efforts ashore with assets including heavy-lift and utility helicopters, trucks and humvees, assault amphibious vehicles and logistics capabilities.
The Amphibious Relief Mission also includes detachments from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron 15, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Fleet Surgical Team 8, Assault Craft Unit 4 and Beachmaster Unit 2.
For more news from USS Bataan (LHD 5), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/.