Warships divert from naval review to aid New Zealand earthquake response

Navy ships from the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore that were initially supposed to take part in the New Zealand Navy’s naval fleet review have changed their course to help in the aftermath of an earthquake that hit New Zealand.

The town of Kaikoura was hardest hit by a 7.5 magnitude quake on Monday. Two people are reported dead.

The U.S. Navy has also sent a to a maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft that is helping identify emergency cases.

U.S. Navy Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command said: “Our prayers go out to our friends in New Zealand as they deal with another devastating earthquake on the South Island. But more than that, our help also goes out. At the request of the New Zealand government, the USS Sampson and her two embarked MH-60R helicopters will join the U.S. P-3 (maritime patrol aircraft) that’s already on station there in support of the disaster relief effort in New Zealand.”

Sampson was already transiting the Western Pacific en route to Auckland, New Zealand, to participate in the Royal New Zealand Navy’s International Naval Review commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Sampson’s visit to New Zealand will be the first in 30 years for a U.S. Navy ship.

The New Zealand Navy also announced that the planned International Street March for Friday 18 November was cancelled.

A private thanks giving ceremony will be held instead so that the visiting navies can acknowledge the people that have been impacted, the announcement read.