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Dec. 4, 2007

Tarawa Relieves Kearsarge in on-going HA/DR Efforts in Bangladesh

From USS Kearsarge and 22nd MEU (SOC) public affairs

USS KEARSARGE, At Sea – The amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1) relieved USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Dec. 3 in the Bay of Bengal to support on-going Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief (HA/DR) efforts in Bangladesh.

Kearsarge, elements of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8 and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) turned over their responsibility for further humanitarian relief efforts to Tarawa, PHIBRON 1 and the 11th MEU (SOC) completing their support of on-going HA/DR operations.

“I am extremely proud of the entire Navy-Marine Corps team onboard Kearsarge,” said Rear Adm. Carol Pottenger, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 76, during an all-hands call.  “Through your teamwork and efforts, you undoubtedly saved countless lives and gave a face to the world’s generosity and compassion.”
At the request of the Government of Bangladesh, Kearsarge Sailors and Marines brought significant air, sea and medical capabilities to the region from Nov. 23 to Dec. 3, providing aid and comfort to the victims of Tropical Cyclone Sidr.

Kearsarge and the 22nd MEU delivered over 205,000 pounds of supplies, including food, blankets, water and purification tablets, as well as over 14,000 gallons of drinking water – a critical need identified in the initial days following the storm.  The water was packaged by filling over 2,400 five-gallon bags, placing them in large boxes, and loading them on pallets for lift ashore via helicopter.

“As a team, we executed an effective, efficient and, perhaps most importantly, safe operation,” said Col. Doug Stilwell, Commander, 22nd MEU (SOC).  “We demonstrated just how ideal a sea-based operation is for relief efforts – capable of delivering significant relief ashore while minimizing our footprint and thereby not placing unnecessary strain on the host nation.”

Heavy and medium-lift helicopters from Kearsarge flew more than 80 sorties and 331 hours in support of the relief operations.  Two medical teams additionally provided care to nearly 1,600 patients and dispensed 2,000 prescriptions from a mobile pharmacy.

“We were pleased to provide any help we could,” said Cmdr. Dave Damstra, Officer-in-Charge, Fleet Surgical Team 4.  “We saw many storm related injuries: cuts, bruises, broken bones; through cooperation with local Bangladeshi hospitals, we were able to maximize medical treatment.”

Kearsarge turned the operation over to the Sailors and Marines of Tarawa, who will continue on-going operations.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the level of thought, care and detail that has gone into planning this operation by blue-green planners and their Bangladeshi counterparts,” said Capt. Frank Ponds, Commander, Kearsarge Strike Group.  “I am confident that Tarawa, and her Sailors and Marines, will be able to seamlessly pick-up where we left off.”

Kearsarge arrived on-station Nov. 22 after steaming over 3,000 miles in less than six days off the coast of Somalia.  They will continue on their scheduled deployment to perform maritime security operations or other missions as required.  Tarawa will continue to perform on-going HA/DR operations in support of the Government of Bangladesh.

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Nov. 29,2007

Defense Attachés Visit Kearsarge

ABOARD USS KEARSARGE, At Sea – Thirteen International Defense Attachés from six countries met with senior officers from the Kearsarge Strike Group, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and Task Force 76 aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Nov. 29.

The meeting was held to familiarize the Defense Attachés with the unique capabilities that Kearsarge brings to the Bangladesh Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief efforts.

“Currently we are providing air and sealift capabilities to distribute much needed relief supplies, water and medical care to those in need and reduce human suffering.  As a sea-based platform, we are uniquely positioned to deliver relief supplies ashore by air and sea in a way that effectively and uniquely supports the Bangladeshi government’s efforts,” said Capt. James Gregorski, Commanding Officer, USS Kearsarge.  “Operating from the sea provides us the flexibility to maneuver, does not stress current infrastructure with a large footprint ashore, and gives maximum opportunity to deliver relief ashore.”

The Defense Attachés included senior officers from Bangladesh, India, China, Turkey, Great Britain and Russia.

Senior officers from the Kearsarge Strike Group, 22 MEU and Task Force 76 have been working closely with the Bangladesh government and military to identify sites that are the most in need of assistance.  Initially, the Bangladeshi government focused on five specific sites in the South, but Kearsarge has expanded its efforts to support twenty sites.  All sites were identified by the government and military of Bangladesh.

“Interagency cooperation is vital to ensuring the maritime strategy is effectively implemented, as well as U.S. policy in general,” said Cmdr. Peter Pagano, Executive Officer, USS Kearsarge.  “Kearsarge is here to support the government of Bangladesh.  We are here as a resource of the U.S. Agency for International Development at providing much needed relief supplies, water and medical care to those in need.”

Kearsarge has transported more than 12,359 gallons of water and more than 36,367 pounds of medical supplies, blankets and food.  The delivery of humanitarian aid in an expeditious manner is a result of the embarked 22nd MEU (SOC) CH-46 “Sea Knight” and CH-53 “Super Stallion” heavy-lift helicopters, both of which can carry large load capacities.  Landing craft-air cushions (LCACs) from the embarked Assault Craft Unit 4 can depart the ship’s well deck and carry vehicles and large quantities of humanitarian aid ashore.

“Sea-based operations are naturally complex.  In order to do them effectively it requires proper planning.  We did a lot of work to prepare on our transit here and we were able to begin water deliveries to those places that had a pressing and immediate need as identified by the Bangladeshi government on our first day on station.  We also have the need to execute safely, which requires evaluation of landing zones to ensure our aircraft can continue to support the mission.  The bottom line is that we have avoided potential issues by properly planning ahead of time,” said Gregorski.

Additionally, Kearsarge sent a medical team ashore to provide acute medical care, such as treatment for infection and broken bones, to Bangladeshis in areas where medical treatment is not easily accessible.

“We will continue to work in coordination with the host nation, other nations and non-governmental organizations to provide relief to the Bangladeshi people as requested by the Bangladesh government,” said Gregorski.  “Our sole concern is to facilitate disaster relief operations to rapidly reduce human suffering.”

Kearsarge and the embarked 22nd MEU (SOC) are conducting Humanitarian Assistance/ Disaster Relief efforts in response to the government of Bangladesh’s request for assistance after Tropical Cyclone Sidr struck their Southern coast Nov. 15.  The storm killed over 3,000 people and has left several hundred thousand homeless.  The Department of Defense effort is part of a larger United States response coordinated by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Kearsarge reported for duty to assist in Bangladeshi humanitarian relief efforts on Thanksgiving Day and immediately began to transfer containers of water ashore. 

Kearsarge is the flagship of the Kearsarge Strike Group, on a regularly scheduled deployment and departed its home port of Norfolk, Va., July 30.

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Nov. 26, 2007

 

Kearsarge Delivers 2,375 Gallons of Water to Bangladesh

From USS Kearsarge Public Affairs 

ABOARD USS KEARSARGE, at sea – Sailors and Marines of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) continue to assist in the Bangladesh Humanitarian Relief efforts.

Kearsarge’s flight deck was full of life as CH-46E “Sea Knight” and CH-53E “Super Stallion” helicopters made multiple trips from the ship to the Bangladesh cities of Barguna, Barisal, Patuakhali, Kalapara, Doblarchar and Zia.

“Water seems to be the Bangladeshi government’s primary need at the moment.  We’ve delivered approximately 9,000 gallons of water via helicopter to five different locations.  We can produce up to 200,000 gallons of drinkable water a day in our distilling plant,” said Capt. James Gregorski, Commanding Officer, USS Kearsarge.

Eighteen Marine helicopters aboard Kearsarge are doing most of the heavy lifting, while two Navy helicopters transport personnel to and from the ship. The ship’s three landing craft air cushion (LCAC), and possibly our medical personnel, may join the humanitarian effort soon.

In addition to delivering water, one of the helicopters picked up a 12,000-pound medical kit donated by the World Health Organization and dropped it off Monday in the hard-hit Patuakhali region.

“The humanitarian operation went well,” said Marine Capt. David Pope, a CH-46E helicopter pilot from the embarked Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 261.  “It feels good to help the people of Bangladesh.  There are more people in need and I can’t wait to continue helping out.”

Preparing the water for delivery was an all-hands effort as members from the ship’s Supply, Engineering, Air and Combat Cargo Departments worked together as a “Blue-Green Team”. 

Engineering Department made the water, using its evaporators, which produce 200,000 gallons of fresh water per day.   Marines from the 22nd MEU (SOC) filled the water in bladders while helping Sailors and Marines from Air, Supply and Combat Cargo Departments load them in boxes and deliver them to the flight deck.

“The government of Bangladesh pledged to feed more than two million people left destitute by flooding, but washed-out roads have left many of the villages inaccessible.  That’s where our helicopters come in.  The helos can distribute donated supplies from the mainland to remote villages,” said Gregorski.

The ship also has three high-speed boats called LCACs that move cargo from ship to shore.  Assault Craft Unit Four from Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base spent two days surveying the coast to find landing sites.

Kearsarge is also sending medical teams to areas of Bangladesh who are in desperate need of primary medical care.  The III Marine Expeditionary Brigade purchased medical supplies, which will be used to treat Bangladeshi’s in areas where medical care is not readily accessible.

Kearsarge and the embarked 22nd MEU (SOC) are conducting Humanitarian Assistance/ Disaster Relief efforts in response to the Government of Bangladesh’s request for assistance after Tropical Cyclone Sidr struck their Southern coast Nov. 15.  The storm killed over 3,000 people and has left several hundred thousand homeless.  The Department of Defense effort is part of a larger United States response coordinated by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Kearsarge reported for duty to assist in Bangladeshi humanitarian relief efforts on Thanksgiving Day and immediately began to transfer containers of water ashore.

Kearsarge is the flagship of the Kearsarge Strike Group, on a regularly scheduled deployment and departed its home port of Norfolk, Va., July 30.

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Nov. 26 2007

22nd MEU (SOC) ramps up relief operations in Bangladesh

From 22nd MEU (SOC) Public Affairs

ABOARD USS KEARSARGE (LHD-3) – Marine helicopters from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) delivered more than 2,500 gals. of water today along with 12,000 lbs. of medical supplies to areas in Bangladesh hardest hit by Tropical Cyclone Sidr, a storm that ripped through the country Nov. 15, 2007.

The Marines made an initial delivery of water on Nov. 23, marking the first delivery of US military aid to the storm-battered nation. Kearsarge and the 22nd MEU (SOC) have contributed to planning efforts with the Bangladeshi Government and military, relief agencies and other US military and US State Department representatives. Kearsarge and the MEU are now ramping up distribution operations with the added capabilities of the embarked helicopters.

A majority of the water delivered today was produced aboard Kearsarge, which has the capability to produce 200,000 gals. of fresh water daily. Five-gallon collapsible bags were filled with the water, placed on pallets and loaded into the aircraft for distribution.

“We’ve coordinated within the combined US and Balgadeshi civil-military construct to ensure that we are getting water and supplies to the people who need it the most,” said Col. Doug Stilwell, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU (SOC). “We have now moved into a more robust phase of operations.”

The Marines also used their long-range CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters to pick up a World Health Organization medical kit, food, bottled water and 18 US military medical personnel from Dhaka, the nation’s capitol. The supplies and medical personnel were delivered to Patuakhali, Bangladesh.

“Today, we moved close to 12,000 lbs. of medical supplies, food and water to a local hospital in the southern region of Bangladesh,” said Cpl. Gary E. Straws, a Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 261 CH-53E Super Stallion flight line mechanic. “Helping people out is one of our callings for this mission that we’re a part of, and I love what I do.”

Stilwell noted that Marines and Sailors worked through the night to ensure water containers were filled and ready to load on the aircraft for an early start, and that all hands have been working together to make relief operations a success.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how the Marines and Sailors of the MEU and Kearsarge have pulled together to support this operation,” said Stilwell. “Morale is high, and we are focused on helping as many of the citizens of Bangladesh as we possibly can.”

The 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22. Elements of the unit remain afloat on USS Gunston Hall and USS Ponce in US Central Command’s area of responsibility. The unit is on a scheduled six-month deployment.

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Nov. 25, 2007

Kearsarge Assists Bangladesh in Relief Efforts

From USS Kearsarge Public Affairs 

ABOARD USS KEARSARGE, at sea – Senior members from the Bangladeshi armed services and government, the United States Agency for International Development and U.S. Embassy met Nov. 24 on board the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsage (LHD 3) to discuss how the ship and its embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) could best support on-going humanitarian relief efforts in Bangladesh following the devastation caused last week by Tropical Cyclone Sidr.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the victims of Tropical Cyclone Sidr,” said Capt. James Gregorski, Kearsarge’s Commanding Officer.  “The multipurpose capability of Kearsarge gives us the ability to provide disaster relief by air via helicopter or sea via LCAC (landing craft air cushion).  The crew worked hard to move Kearsarge over three thousand miles to arrive on Thanksgiving day to be in a position to best assist in the efforts that had already begun by the government of Bangladesh.   Sailors and Marines are eager to help ease the burden of this tragedy.”

Key leaders attending the meeting Saturday included Brig. Gen. Ronald Bailey, Deputy Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force/Commanding General, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Geeta Pasi, U.S. Charge’ d’ Affairs ad interim of Bangladesh, Denise Rollins from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Rear Adm. Carol Pottenger, Commander, Task Force 76; Capt. Robert Bougher, Commander, Kearsarge Strike Group; Col. Douglas Stilwell, Commanding Officer, 22nd MEU (Special Operations Capable) Gregorski and several high ranking Bangladesh Army officers. 

“It was a great opportunity for U.S. and Bangladeshi leaders to witness first hand the capabilities of Kearsarge and 22nd MEU (SOC),” said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Smith, Assistant Operations Officer, Kearsarge Strike Group.  “It was also an opportunity for Bangladesh to determine out how best to incorporate U.S. naval capability ashore.”

Smith said Kearsarge and the 22nd MEU (SOC) plan to use a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters, CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters, and an SH-60 Seahawk helicopters to transport supplies.  They also plan to use an LCAC, which has the capability of moving up to 825 tons of aid per day.

Also, during their visit to Kearsarge, the ship’s guests were taken on a tour of Kearsarge’s hangar bay, well deck, bridge and medical facilities.

Kearsarge reported for duty to assist in Bangladeshi humanitarian relief efforts on Thanksgiving Day and immediately began to transfer bottles of water ashore.

Kearsarge is the flagship of the Kearsarge Strike Group, on a regularly scheduled deployment and departed its home port of Norfolk, Va. July 30. 

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Nov. 23, 2007

22nd MEU (SOC) delivers first military relief aid to Bangladesh

ABOARD USS KEARSARGE – A pair of Marine helicopters lifted from the flight deck of USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) today with loads of bottled water, marking the first delivery of US military aid to the storm-battered nation of Bangladesh.

The 750 gallon shipment of water was delivered to a relief-supply distribution hub in Barisal, a city in southern Bangladesh.

“I feel ecstatic,” said Capt. Andrew Traynor, a CH-46E helicopter pilot with the Aviation Combat Element for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). “(This mission) can show that the US military is not all about combat; we’re here to help people.”

Kearsarge and elements of the embarked 22nd MEU (SOC) arrived off the coast of Bangladesh early this morning. While the ship was on its nearly 3,500 mile trek to reach its current position, Marines and sailors aboard the vessel tested equipment, positioned supplies and readied for humanitarian assistance operations.

“The delivery today is a start, but there is more work to be done,” said Col. Doug Stilwell, Commanding Officer of the 22nd MEU (SOC). “The Bangladesh government and military, in conjunction with relief agencies, are responding well to the situation – we will reinforce and support that effort.”

To focus US military efforts on supporting the Government of Bangladesh relief operation, a team of key US military representatives led by Adm. Timothy J. Keating, Commander US Pacific Command, and Brig. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the lead US military commander on the ground in Bangladesh, met with representatives of the Bangladesh military, United States Agency for International Development, and the US Embassy. A team from Kearsarge led by Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, commander of Task Force 76, was also present at the meeting, flying from Kearsarge to the nation’s capitol city of Dhaka this morning.

“All parties concur with the way ahead for this operation,” said Stilwell. “We want to support in a way that will have the most impact on reducing further loss of life and relieving human suffering.”

The 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22. Elements of the unit remain afloat on USS Gunston Hall and USS Ponce in US Central Command’s area of responsibility. The unit is on a scheduled six-month deployment.

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Nov. 23, 2007

22nd MEU (SOC), Kearsarge Aid Tropical Cyclone Humanitarian Efforts

Joint release from 22nd MEU (SOC) and USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

 ABOARD USS KEARSARGE – The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), as well as elements of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8 and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) arrived off the coast of Bangladesh today to support ongoing disaster relief operations.

At the request of the Government of Bangladesh, Kearsarge and 22nd MEU (SOC) are coordinating with government officials, military leaders and international aid organizations to determine how best to focus the added capabilities of the U.S. Naval forces against relief efforts.

“The suffering caused by this storm is devastating,” said Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, Commander Task Force (CTF) 76, embarked aboard Kearsarge.  “We are here to bring help and hope to those in need and aid the people of Bangladesh during this difficult time.”

Tropical Cyclone Sidr slammed into the Bangladesh coast Nov. 15, with winds in excess of 156 miles per hour, killing thousands and leaving several hundred-thousand homeless.

“The government of Bangladesh and various international aid organizations have a robust capability already in place and we will support their efforts as requested,” said Pottenger.  “Our forces are highly flexible and poised to help however we can."

The Norfolk-based ship’s embarked helicopters and landing craft air cushion can deliver food, medicine and thousands of gallons of fresh water ashore, helping to save lives, lessen suffering, and aid in preventing the onset of tropical cyclone-related medical issues.

“We provide a unique mix of capabilities including airlift, logistics support and the ability to support the humanitarian relief efforts already in place,” said Col. Doug Stilwell, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU (SOC).  “Our goal is to assist the Bangladesh government, Bangladesh military and non-governmental organizations in reducing further loss of life.”

Last week, Kearsarge was directed to make best speed toward Bangladesh from the Arabian Sea when it became apparent that the storm was going to make landfall.

Kearsarge is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and departed its home port of Norfolk, Va. July 30.   

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November 18, 2007

Bangladesh: U.S. Government Disaster Relief Support Following Cyclone Sidr

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
 

The United States is responding in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr to try to meet the immediate needs of the Bangladeshi people, calling into action a multitude of U.S. Government disaster relief agencies and departments. We extend our deepest sympathies to the people of Bangladesh following this major natural disaster, and we stand ready to assist further.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided $100,000 immediately after the cyclone and has deployed a five-person disaster assessment team to Bangladesh to assist with the relief and recovery efforts. This team is working alongside local authorities to conduct field assessments that will identify additional needs and areas where we might be of assistance. USAID is now sending an additional $2 million in emergency funds for water and sanitation programs and to provide shelter materials to those in need. A portion of this funding will also be provided to humanitarian organizations currently working in the affected areas.

At the request of the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh, U.S. Pacific Command has sent a 23-man Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team of U.S. Marines to the southern coast of Bangladesh to determine how the U.S. military can best provide assistance in the area. A military medical team already in country is prepared to provide medical assistance to the injured. In addition, U.S. Navy ships, USS Essex and USS Kearsarge, have been ordered to move in the direction of Bangladesh so that U.S. military forces can be better positioned in the event that the Government of Bangladesh requests assistance. These ships, expected to arrive in 5 to 7 days, each carry 20 or more helicopters that can be used for medical evacuations and surveying affected areas. The Department of Defense will continue to assess assets which may be deployed to Bangladesh.

While the United States and other donors will continue to aid in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr, the effects of the Cyclone were certainly lessened and many lives saved thanks to the investments the Government of Bangladesh, working with USAID, has made in disaster preparedness and mitigation.

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Nov. 17, 2007

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 17, 2007

STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY

President and Mrs. Bush offer condolences to the victims of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, especially those who have lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods in this tragedy. The United States Government has provided an initial contribution of 2.1 million dollars for emergency relief.

Additionally, the USS Essex and the USS Kearsarge are en route to Bangladesh to assist in operations there. USAID will airlift 35 tons of non-food items such as plastic sheeting, jerricans, hygiene kits and other supplies to provide needed material assistance. An 18 person Department of Defense medical team that was in Bangladesh prior to the storm is there to help with current medical needs. Working with the Government of Bangladesh, we are assessing critical needs to determine where our assistance can be most effective.

The United States is committed to helping the people of Bangladesh and their government as they face the many challenges of rebuilding and recovering.

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