USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors in the Supply Department aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) worked from the ship's initial response to its departure Feb. 1 to increase the amount of water and medical supplies on board destined for Haitians affected by the recent earthquake.
Just hours before the earthquake struck, Carl Vinson departed Norfolk, Va. with only enough supplies to support the flight crew and ship's crew for its scheduled deployment.
Right away, the aircraft carrier was tasked with being a first responder, immediately diverting course to Haiti to aid in humanitarian and disaster relief.
Carl Vinson Supply Officer Cmdr. Kenneth Epps, had to find ways to assist thousands more people than the ship was equipped for at the time.
"One of our first actions was to take the bottled water and sports drinks in stock for our ship's store," said Epps. "They all went ashore in day one and day two of our arrival, and we were able to arrange for a shipment of more bottled water from Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay), Cuba."
To meet the challenge of additional water, Epps worked closely with Carl Vinson Chief Engineer Cmdr. Stephen Marino and Capt. William McKinley, Vinson's reactor officer. Sailors in the Engineering Department cut and welded pipes to form a mechanism capable of filling multiple water jugs at a time. McKinley's department used their desalination equipment to turn salty ocean water into fresh water safe for drinking, and the Supply Department was able to obtain thousands of reusable five-gallon containers to fill and deliver to earthquake survivors.
While the water supply issues were being worked on, Epps met with Cmdr. Alfred Shwayhat, a doctor and the ship's senior medical officer, to create a list of the most urgently needed medical supplies, and to decide from where and how to best get them to the ship quickly.
A Navy hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., loaded a pallet with supplies on that list and donated them to Carl Vinson for use as part of the humanitarian assistance.
The efforts of the Sailors aboard resulted in 89,000 gallons of water and more than 38,000 pounds of medical supplies being transported from the aircraft carrier to earthquake survivors in Haiti.
"I found participation in Operation Unified Response immensely rewarding and an event that I will remember for the rest of my life," said Epps. "We literally had a hands-on ability to really shape lives in a positive way."
Carl Vinson departed Haiti Feb. 1 attached to Carrier Strike Group 1 and provided initial humanitarian aid and disaster relief during Operation Unified Response while conducting a scheduled homeport shift.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.