SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7 and the 1224th Engineering Support Company, Guam Army National Guard worked together to load heavy equipment vehicles onto amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) for transport to Saipan in support of Task Force-West (TF-W) disaster relief efforts after Super Typhoon Yutu, Nov. 6.
Sailors and Soldiers loaded 18 vehicles, including high-mobility excavators, 10-ton dump-trucks, and light-medium practical vehicles onto Navy Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) 1634, attached to NBU-7, at the Reserve Craft Beach in Guam.
“This is an involved evolution,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jason Wommack, assigned to NBU 7. “We’re here on the beach working with the Guam National Guard to get the equipment to the USS Ashland. We’re just doing our job and our part to serve our country, and in this case help the people in Saipan.”
Once the vehicles were on LCU 1634, they were transported across Apra Harbor to Ashland, pierside at U.S. Naval Base Guam. Ashland pulled in solely to assist the Guam National Guard its transport mission.
"USS Ashland with her two Landing Craft Utility from Navy Beach Unit 7 bring immense capability and logistic support to the effort in Northern Mariana Islands," said Capt. Jim McGovern, commodore for Amphibious Squadron 11. "She has already delivered almost 50 31st MEU vehicles to support FEMA and civil authorities on Tinian. This combination ... provides great flexibility in transporting a variety of equipment to include the movement of Guam Army National Guard equipment to Saipan with minimal support from shore facilities. This is an important mission and we are privileged to be supporting our fellow citizens.”
This marks the first time vehicles attached to the Guam National Guard were transported via a surface ship. Usually the Air Force provides transportation for National Guard equipment and personnel to required locations.
These vehicles were shipped because they were too large to be flown at this time, said Maj. Josephine Blas, Guam National Guard public affairs officer.
Guam National Guard is sending 22 heavy equipment operators to Saipan, along with the vehicles. The vehicles and operators will provide the capability to move and clean large amounts of debris more efficiently.
“We sent 130 Soldiers to Saipan earlier this week,” said Maj. Gary Tanaka, assigned to the 1224th Engineering Support Company. “Now we’re sending equipment and more personnel on the Ashland that can expedite the disaster relief efforts.”
TF-W was stood up by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and is responding to the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yutu, which struck Oct. 24 over the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Super Typhoon Yutu was the second-strongest system to hit U.S. soil in recorded history.
TF-W is providing support to CNMI's civil and local officials as part of FEMA-supported recovery efforts, which began Oct. 25 immediately following the storm. TF-W is divided into Task Group Saipan and Task Group Tinian, and comprises more than 800 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard service members from more than 20 different units across all branches of services within USINDOPACOM.
For more news from Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf76/.