By DoD News
U.S. Northern Command began supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hurricane Irma response Thursday as the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp arrived in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Wasp’s helicopters are conducting medical evacuations for critical care patients from St. Thomas to St. Croix and conducting damage assessment in support of the government. The Wasp, the first Navy ship to arrive in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is providing medium and heavy lift helicopters to transport people and supplies.
The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill are also en route to the area after initially preparing to assist in the recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey.
The combined aircraft on all three ships include three Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom helicopters, three Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, five Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft and nine Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopters.
These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support, and bring a diverse capability including assessment, security, route clearance and water purification.
Additionally, U.S. Transportation Command is providing a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to assist with the relocation of hospital patients from St. Thomas.
The Defense Department is also leaning forward to support states that may be impacted by Hurricane Irma. Northcom has identified incident support bases at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia; Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and Robins Air Force Base, Georgia; to support response and recovery operations for the East Coast.
In Texas, active-duty service members continue to conduct a wide array of support missions. For example, DoD trucks and helicopters continue to be actively engaged in life-sustaining commodity distribution, and DoD continues to provide fuel, generators, personal flotation devices, shelf-stable meals and bottled water to the Texas area.