SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Essex was rerouted from a planned disaster relief mission to Bangladesh, the U.S. Navy announced Monday.
The Navy had planned to send Essex to help in the wake of Cyclone Sidr, which left at least 3,243 people dead and about 1,180 missing after it struck Bangladesh Nov. 15.
Instead, the USS Tarawa is headed to the area and will provide disaster relief, the Navy said.
The Essex will continue with its scheduled duties in the region. Monday it pulled into the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville, where sailors and Marines disembarked to give medical and dental aid to residents.
Essex’s visit to Cambodia marks the first time an amphibious assault ship has visited the country. Essex doctors and dental workers will treat Cambodians who “would otherwise have limited or no access to health care in some rural areas,” Senior Chief Petty Officer Mark Davison was quoted as saying in a Navy news release.
The ship’s roughly 2,500 sailors and Marines also are scheduled to participate in community relations projects and professional military exchanges, the Navy said.
“Essex sailors are honored to have the opportunity to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia as part of the broadening and deepening relations between our navies and our two governments,” Capt. Brian T. Donegan, Essex’s commanding officer, said in the release.