USS Iwo Jima leaves Norfolk for Haiti
By HUGH LESSIG | Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 9, 2016
The Navy has dispatched a second ship to aid stricken Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima was scheduled to leave Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday, packed with 225 pallets of supplies and a contingent of 500 Marines, according to a news release.
The Iwo Jima will relieve the USS Mesa Verde, which should arrive in Haiti early Sunday. The Navy will transfer resources and personnel from Mesa Verde to the Iwo Jima, including aircraft, landing craft and personnel.
That will complement equipment already onboard Iwo Jima, which also has search-and-rescue aircraft, beach craft and medical facilities.
Matthew slammed into southern Haiti with 145 mph winds before moving on to the Bahamas and the U.S.
Iwo Jima is home-ported at Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Fla. It left there Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Matthew and sailed to Norfolk.
Capt. James Midkoff, the ship's commanding officer, praised his crew for gearing up so quickly even while their families dealt with the storm in Florida.
"Everything we have done since departing our home port is designed to get ready and provide support for those in need," he said, "and I think we have done exactly that."
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Sailors move supplies aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) during an onload of more than 500 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) and nearly 300 pallets of supplies. Iwo Jima is moored pierside at Naval Station Norfolk awaiting further tasking as Hurricane Matthew develops.
JESS E. TONER/U.S. NAVY PHOTO