CAMP AGUINALDO, Manila (NNS) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines and Joint Task Force 505 welcome amphibious ships USS Ashland (LSD-48) and USS Germantown (LSD-42) Nov. 20, in the concerted efforts to extend relief efforts to typhoon victims in Visayas.
Ashland and Germantown have aboard a combined total of approximately 900 Marines, elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, based in Okinawa, Japan.
"Having amphibious ships here, along with the 31st MEU, brings more logistical capability and capacity to augment our ongoing relief operations in Visayas," said Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Alan R. Luga.
Ashland and Germantown, both dock landing ships, replaced USS George Washington which had been operating in the area since Nov. 14.
"We are very thankful to the United States Armed Forces for sending one of their aircraft carriers to the Philippines and immediately supporting our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations following the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda," Luga said.
Luga added that USS George Washington played an important role in air transport when most airports are non-operational in critical areas in Eastern Visayas and the amphibious ships have a more robust ship-to-shore movement ability.
Ashland and Germantown carry landing craft, both air cushioned and utility, for moving large amounts of cargo and equipment ashore, and the 31st MEU brings heavy equipment which could be used to move debris.
"In addition to the enhanced capabilities of the Ashland and Germantown the Japanese Navy will be surveying the Eastern Coast of Samar and identifying additional impacted areas for relief support," said U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Wissler, JTF-505 commander.
"These are more suitable assets, and combined with the naval vessels from Japan, Australia, and other nations, we continue to be postured to help wherever the Philippine Government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines needs us and we will remain here until our unique capabilities are no longer necessary," Wissler said.