PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - U.S.
Pacific Fleet ships in the Western Pacific were converging on Japan
to be in the best position to help those in areas damaged by the
massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
They include the aircraft carrier USS
Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), which departed Southern California waters on
March 5 for a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific
and U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Reagan is the
flagship of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, which includes
USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Preble (DDG 88). All three
ships were headed to Honshu’s east coast. It is too early to say
what they will be tasked with once they arrive.
USS Essex (LHD 2), also forward deployed to Sasebo, had just arrived
in Malaysia, but is getting ready to return to Japan to rendezvous
with USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) off
Tokyo to prepare for any humanitarian assistance/disaster relief
USS Tortuga (LSD 46), a dock landing ship that carries helicopters
and landing craft to support amphibious operations, left its forward
deployed port of Sasebo in Southern Japan last evening to embark
MH-53 heavy lift helicopters.
USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), the U.S. 7th Fleet command flagship, had
arrived in Singapore yesterday for a port visit, but immediately
changed its focus to loading humanitarian assistance/disaster relief
equipment and preparing to return to Japan to provide support as
“We obviously have huge sympathy for the people of Japan, and we are
prepared to help them in any way we possibly can,” Defense Secretary
Robert Gates said in a statement. “It's obviously a very
sophisticated country, but this is a huge disaster and we will do
all, anything we are asked to do to help out."