Friday, March 11, 2011
USS Reagan Headed To Help Tsunami Victims In Japan
A San Diego-based, nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, is headed toward Japan today to stand ready to assist victims of the earthquake and tsunami.
Commander Greg Hicks of the Navy in San Diego said the Reagan was already in the Western Pacific. The Reagan belongs to the San Diego-based 3rd Fleet, but was scheduled to join the Navy’s 7th fleet in Japan as part of her routine deployment.
Hicks added that the hospital ship, the USS Mercy, is currently in San Diego Bay undergoing maintenance, but that she could be activated if necessary.
Lt. Cmmdr. John Perkins of Pacific Fleet headquarters said the aircraft carrier and her crew of 5,000 should arrive off the northeast coast of Japan around midday Saturday (U.S. time). He said aircraft carriers are uniquely equipped to help in disasters like these because they can produce thousands of gallons of potable water a day.
“It also has aircraft that can survey the damage,” Perkins said, “and helicopters can get supplies inland, because you don’t know how the roads are. You may only be able to get to certain places via helicopter.”
Perkins said the Japanese Government has requested assistance, but the Navy is waiting for specific details of how they can help.
He said no U.S. vessels based in Japan or Hawaii was damaged by the tsunami.
Marine Corps spokesman Captain Brian Block said none of the approximately 20,000 Marines stationed in Japan was harmed by the earthquake or the tsunami. He said there has been minimal, if any, damage to facilities there. They are standing by in case they receive orders to offer assistance.