PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- The George Washington Strike Group (GWSG) continues its preparation to aid the Republic of Philippines in response to Super Typhoon Haiyan, Nov. 14.
George Washington will act, when directed, as the primary staging platform for aircraft carrying humanitarian supplies and personnel to more than 4.2 million people across the 36 affected Philippine provinces.
"It has been a long-stated mission of the U.S. Navy to appropriately respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief situations," said Capt. Greg Fenton, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). "Based on the reports of the devastation we have seen from this typhoon, I believe our entire crew understands the mission's importance and are prepared to execute as expeditiously as possible."
The two helicopter squadrons embarked aboard George Washington, the "Saberhawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 and the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, have retrofitted their aircraft to carry a maximum amount of supplies and personnel.
"We will deliver food, water, medical supplies and shelters with our helicopters," said Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Jeremy Smith, from Flagstaff, Ariz. "All of the aircrewmen are search and rescue and first-responder qualified, so we can also render emergency medical care if required."
Four helicopters from HSM 77 and six helicopters from HSC 12 will be used to provide support. According to Smith, an advantage to using helicopters is that they have a much smaller footprint, especially in the more remote areas where help may be required.
"Our helicopters have the technology to survey remote areas that are difficult to reach," said Lt.j.g. Jessica Mahoney, HSM 77 quality assurance officer. "At this moment, we are conducting reconnaissance to better prepare for what we may encounter."
Since 1990, the U.S. Government has responded to more than 40 disasters in the Philippines at the request of that country's government, ranging from volcanic eruptions, drought and population displacement.
The role of U.S. military forces during any foreign humanitarian assistance event is to rapidly respond with support to help mitigate human suffering and prevent further loss of life.
GWSG arrived to the Republic of the Philippines Nov. 14 to support "Operation Damayan," the humanitarian efforts in response to Typhoon Haiyan.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.