This time it's Southeast Asia, where U.S. Navy SH-60F, HH-60H, SH-60B SEAHAWK and MH-60S KNIGHTHAWK helicopters led the way in the American disaster relief effort in the Indonesian province of Aceh where earthquakes and tsunamis ravaged the region on Dec. 26.
Meanwhile, more Navy MH-60S and U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E SUPER STALLION helicopters were headed to the stricken area aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), which cut short its port visit to Guam Dec. 28 and set sail for South Asia to provide humanitarian assistance to the region.
SEAHAWKS from the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) began providing logistical support to disaster victims Jan. 1.
A U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman said the Navy is determined to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the recent natural disaster, and that forward deployed units of the U.S. 7th Fleet train for humanitarian assistance missions to rapidly respond to support relief efforts.
"For the first time in this tragic situation, six SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from Lincoln are actively ferrying food and medical supplies from collection points in the Indonesian town of Banda Aceh to affected locations in Indonesia," said Lt. Cmdr. John Daniels, USS Abraham Lincoln CSG public affairs officer. "Additionally, these helicopters will take injured and otherwise affected people back to Banda Aceh, where they will receive necessary medical and humanitarian attention."
U.S. Navy officials expect additional naval support in the area. In addition to Lincoln CSG ships already in the area, including USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USNS Ranier (T-AOE 7). Along with the USS Bonhomme Richard, other elements include the USS Duluth (LPD 6), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Rushmore (LSD 47), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Thach (FFG 43), and USCGC Munro (WHEC 724). Most of the ships carry Sikorsky naval helicopters.