USA: Hurricane Sandy Ships to Return to Norfolk

Hurricane Sandy Ships to Return to Norfolk

The three amphibious ships supporting Hurricane Sandy relief efforts off the coast of New York and New Jersey will return to their homeports in Virginia, Nov. 12. Marines from the 26th MEU are also scheduled to return to Camp Lejeune, N.C. Nov. 12.

Operations in support of relief have shifted into the recovery phase and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are fully operational and providing sustained assistance as requested by state and local authorities.

Navy and Marine Corps forces aboard the ships systematically transitioned the services they were providing to these organizations as a way to maintain continuity during long long-term disaster response.

The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) and the amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio (LPD 17), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, and the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 5), homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va., sortied to the New York/New Jersey coast following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy on the Northeast region.

“This team had a short amount of time to plan, and execute the mission at hand. We came to help the people affected by Hurricane Sandy and we did an outstanding job at working with federal, state, and local authorities,” stated Capt. Tim Spratto, commodore, Wasp Amphibious Ready Group. “Nobody can replace what the hurricane took away, I just hope our actions helped out those in need.”

Sailors from all three ships, and Marines embarked from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), provided support throughout the affected region. They assisted with repair of the Hoboken Ferry Terminal and the Sandy Hook Coast Guard Station; emergency clearance and restoration efforts in Staten Island, N.Y., and New Jersey’s Barrier Islands; dewatering efforts at Rockaway Beach, N.Y., Staten Island, Ellis Island, and at locations in the vicinity of the World Trade Center Memorial.

The ships also served as a landing platform for U.S. Coast Guard assets conducting search and rescue operations.

A number of Navy personnel remain deployed to the affected region to provide support. Those shore-based forces include some that originally deployed aboard the amphibious ships. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) forces are operating out of Craven Point and Rockaway N.J., and Breezy Point, N.Y. These forces include Seabees from Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 5 (NMCB-5) and Mobile Diving & Salvage Unit 2 (MDSU-2). The commander of NECC, Rear Adm. Michael P. Tillotson, continues to serve as the Deputy Commander of the Joint Coordination Element (JCE). The JCE remains in place to coordinate Defense Department support for relief operations.

The Navy-Marine Corps team and the other U.S. military branches assist in disaster recovery through FEMA, under the operational command and control of U.S. Northern Command. The Navy-Marine Corps team has a great deal of expertise in the area of response and recovery, gained from human assistance and disaster relief efforts following natural disasters in Indonesia, Haiti and Japan. In addition, the Navy played a key role in response and recovery operations in the Katrina-affected Gulf Coast states.

Naval Today Staff, November 13, 2012; Image: US Navy