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San Diego-Based USS Cowpens Arrives In Philippines To Help Typhoon Victims (Video)

U.S. Navy
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Eric Chiarito, left, and Marine Sgt. Jonathan Thornton load supplies at Tacloban Air Base in support of Operation Damayan.

The San Diego-based USS Cowpens, and the entire George Washington Strike Group, arrived in the Philippines today to begin "Operation Damayan" - a humanitarian mission that will provide aid to the typhoon-ravaged nation.

Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander of the strike group, explained to Task Force 70 Public Affairs:

"[T]he aircraft carrier, USS George Washington and the cruisers USS Antietam and USS Cowpens will go to a position just off the eastern coast of Samar island in order to begin to assess the damage and provide logistical and emergency support to include medical and water supplies."

Another San Diego-based ship is preparing for a humanitarian mission in the Philippines. U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr,. activated USNS Mercy, a hospital ship, on Wednesday:

If ordered to deploy, Mercy would get underway in the next several days and could arrive in the Philippines sometime in December, joining other U.S. Pacific Fleet units already supporting Operation Damayan.

Military officials tell Voice of America there may be as many as 1,000 U.S. military personnel on the ground in the coming days, as part of Operation Damayan.

Brigadier General Paul Kennedy, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, spoke to Fox News about the magnitude of the devastation he's witnessed: