ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (BHR) (LHD 6) delivered more than 49,000 pounds of food, water and medicine to tsunami victims on the Indonesian island of Sumatra Jan. 8 in support of Operation Unified Assistance.
The San Diego-based ship, which is operating close to the epicenter of the 9.0 earthquake that caused the devastating tsunamis, also delivered medical equipment for the Spanish Red Cross.
According to BHR Commanding Officer Capt. J. Scott Jones, Bonhomme Richard is working together with all of the other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as the navies of Singapore, Indonesia and India. Ships from the Australian, British, French and Japanese navies are en route and expected to arrive soon.
"We're coordinating our assistance efforts to maximize the capabilities that each of the navies bring," said Jones. "The navies of the region not only have great medical and salvage skills, but they also have the unique capability of knowing the language. That's a powerful tool when you're trying to coordinate efforts across diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds."
Jones said BHR has joined these other nations on the point in this "war on misery and suffering," fighting enemies like disease, dehydration and starvation.
"Many of the nations of the world are converging to provide support to help a nation recover from such a large disaster," Jones said. "And one advantage we've discovered here is the many friendships formed between people from the different navies of the world at our various war colleges. They give us a better understanding of each other."
BHR's Command Master Chief CMDCM (SW/AW) Dan Dyar said he has noticed a re-energized sense of pride around the ship since Operation Unified Assistance began.
"Our Sailors and Marines are working very hard, but they are taking part in a very important mission," Dyar said. "Because of that, I see them walking a little taller than usual these days."
Jones said he has also noticed the increased sense of purpose and pride on the ship's deckplates.
"There's no better morale booster than doing something good for someone else," Jones said. "And we're doing it on a large scale."
Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of Expeditionary Strike Group 5, conducting humanitarian relief operations off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
For related news on Navy tsunami relief operations, visit the Focus on Tsunami Relief Operations page at www.navy.mil/local/tsunami.
For related news, visit the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/lhd6.