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The latest on Navy support to Japan

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 19, 2011

10:20 p.m. Saturday, Tokyo time

U.S. 7th Fleet has 12,750 personnel, 20 ships, and 140 aircraft participating in Operation Tomodachi. Seventh Fleet forces have delivered 81 tons of relief supplies to date.

USS Tortuga is in the vicinity of Hachinohe where she will serve as an afloat forward service base for helicopter operations. CH-53 Sea Stallion aircraft from attached to Tortuga delivered 13 tons of humanitarian aid cargo on Friday, including 5,000 pounds of water and 5,000 MREs, to Yamada Station, 80 miles south of Misawa.

USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry and USS Germantown with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived off the coast of Akita prefecture Saturday. Marines of the 31st MEU have established a Forward Control Element in Matsushima to coordinate disaster aid planning with officials. They are scheduled to move to Sendai later Saturday.

The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, to include the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, the destroyer USS Preble and the combat support ship USNS Bridge, the guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald, USS John S. McCain, USS McCampbell, USS Mustin and USS Curtis Wilbur continue relief operations off the east coast of Iwate prefecture. Three U.S. Navy liaison officers are on JS Hyuga to coordinate U.S. operations with Japan Maritime Self Defense force leadership.

Helicopters from HS-4 and HSL-43 with the Reagan strike group, and HSL-51 from Carrier Airwing Five (CVW-5) in Atsugi, on the 18th delivered 28 tons of food, water, clothes, medicine, toiletries, baby supplies, and much needed kerosene to displaced persons at fifteen relief sites ashore. For two of the relief sites serviced, it was the first humanitarian aid they have received since the tsunami a week ago. Eight of the sites serviced made requests for specific aid, including a need for a medical professional.

CVW-5 on Friday completed the relocation of 14 helos normally assigned to USS George Washington from Atsugi to Misawa Air Base in northern Honshu.

USS Cowpens continued its northerly track to rendezvous with the Reagan Carrier Strike Group. Cowpens is expected to join the Strike Group overnight. USS Shiloh is en route from Yokosuka to deliver relief supplies to the Strike Group.

USS Blue Ridge, the flagship for the U.S. 7th Fleet, remains in the vicinity of Okinawa to conduct transfers of supplies and additional personnel to augment the staff.

All 7th Fleet ships, including George Washington and USS Lassen which are currently conducting maintenance in Yokosuka, are preparing to go. Personnel have been recalled and leaves canceled.

Two P-3 Orion aircraft from Patrol Squadron Four conducted two aerial survey missions over ports and airfields in northern Honshu on Saturday. CTF-72 has embarked two liaison officers from Japan Maritime Self Defense Force on each mission. Aerial imagery captured on these missions is shared with Japan. VP-4 has established a detachment in Misawa with two aircraft and four aircrews.

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