msc-navy-conrep underway

US Navy and MSC Lead In Japan Relief Efforts

John Konrad
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March 29, 2011

msc-navy-conrep underway

In the efforts to provide relief services to Japan it’s no surprise, with continued presence in and close ties to the country, that  US military forces are leading international efforts but which service is providing the most help? In a recent report the US Pacific Command recently shared a snapshot of operation under their command:

U.S. Air Force

  • PACAF has generated 265 sorties moving 3,315 passengers and more than 2,512 short tons (5,025,600 million lbs) of cargo in support of Japan Relief Efforts.
  • Number of AF Personnel deployed in support of relief operations:  698
  • Number of PACAF aircraft deployed in support of relief operations:  18

U.S. Marine Corps

  • Marines Are Located At Mcas Iwakuni, Yokota Air Base, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Camp Sendai, and Yamagata Air Field.

U.S. Army

  • 458 U.S. Army Japan personnel are supporting Operation Tomodachi as well as 1,000 national labor contractors.
  • Japan’s National Police Agency reported 10,035 people dead, 17,443 missing, and 2775 injured. Approximately 202,000 are being housed in shelters.
  • Japanese Consul General New York protests Business Week cover illustration of Japanese national flag split in half by a crack.  Reported as inappropriate and insensitive considering the sentiments of the Japanese victims and relief workers and the American people who are giving unreserved support to Japan.

U.S. Navy

  • Seventh Fleet forces continued support of Japanese Self Defense Force’s (JSDF) sustainment of life efforts via Operation Tomodachi. Currently, 19 ships, 140 aircraft and 18,282 personnel of the Fleet are operating in support of the Operation to assist Japan.
  • Commander Task Force 76 (CTF 76) continued harbor clearance operations in Hachinohe yesterday. USNS Safeguard (ARS 50) with the embarked divers of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 and Underwater Construction Team 2, worked together with Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and commercial divers to open the harbor for operations. They took underwater surveillance imagery with side scan sonar equipment to detect, mark and move underwater obstacles from the channel and the vicinity of the liquid natural gas (LNG) pier. The local port captain certified the channel and pier for safe navigation. Today an LNG tanker entered the port, marking the first delivery since the earthquake and tsunami on March 11. After Hachinohe harbor is clear, Navy teams will continue similar efforts in the ports of Miyako, Kamaishi, Ofunato, and Sendai, debris and other navigational hazards so that ships may resume deliveries of critical supplies.
  • Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) began transferring fresh water to two empty fuel barges yesterday. These barges will be used to support cooling efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. A total of 500,000 gallons are being distributed between the barges that have been cleaned of fuel to support fresh water. The first Barge YOGN-115 departed Yokosuka yesterday morning and were escorted by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force support ship JS Hiuchi. The second barge left tomorrow. The water will eventually be used to replace the seawater currently being used in cooling efforts at the plant.
  • The USS Essex (LHD 2) amphibious ready group, which includes USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46), conducted at-sea replenishment with the USNS Pecos (T-AO 197) to onload additional fuel and humanitarian supplies. A medical team from USS Essex flew to JS Hyuga today to meet up with Japanese medical personnel, then move ashore together to provide assistance. In the coming days, the Essex ARG will assist the JGSDF in moving vehicles and fuel to the island of Oshima, off the coast of Kessenuma.
  • A P-3 “Orion” from VP-4 and assigned to CTF-72 conducted a reconnaissance flight to survey ports and roads in Mukai, Toni, Kuji, and Ofunato. The crew spotted the words “HELP WATER” formed in the snow of a baseball field located beside an elementary school. They quickly relayed the information to the Japan Self Defense Force, and ensured that the site was being serviced by the JGSDF.
  • The USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) is scheduled to return to Yokosuka for resupply. It will be the first U.S. Navy ship to return to Yokosuka since March 22.
  • USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship for the United States Seventh Fleet, departed White Beach, Okinawa, yesterday after onloading supplies and additional personnel to augment the staff during the crisis.
  • Since Operation Tomodachi started, U.S. 7th Fleet forces have delivered more than 230 tons of HA/DR supplies to survivors of the tsunami and earthquake, in support of Japan Self Defense Force efforts.

But most readers of gCaptain know full well the US Navy relies heavily on its civilian arm, Military Sealift Command, to do much of the heavy lifting during crisis. With this in mind here is the latest update (March 24th) of MSC’s direct efforts in Japan:

Commander Task Force 76 (CTF 76) conducted diving operations in Hachinohe investigating the harbor area and also the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) pier. USNS Safeguard with the embarked Mobile Diving Salvage Unit One arrived in Hachinohe to assist with clearing debris from the harbor. In the days ahead both Safeguard and USS Tortuga (LSD 46) will work with Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and local authorities to clear the ports at Hachinohe, Miyako, Kamaishi, Ofonato, and Sendai from debris and other navigational hazards. In Hachinohe alone there are 700 shipping containers and 200 fishing boats that are missing, many of which are sunk and could impede ships from safely entering or leaving the harbor.

Seventh Fleet continues to align its efforts in support of the Japan Self Defense Forces. To further coordinate delivery of relief supplies between the forces, a three man liaison officer team from the 31st Maritime Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will join the 4th Division Japan Ground Self Defense Force, while similar team of liaison officers from the 4th Division JGSDF will join the 31st MEU.

USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE-7) conducted replenishment with the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) today, transferring fuel, shipboard supplies and160 Pallets of HADR supplies. The Brashear also provided 30 pallets of HADR supplies to the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and 15 pallets to the USS Cowpens (CG 63) in the Reagan Strike Group. These supplies will be distributed over the next few days.

USS Curtis Wilbur broke away from operations today to return to Yokosuka for resupply.

USNS Rappahannack (T-AO-204) and USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE-9) have distributed all available Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief supplies as well as shipboard stores and fuel and are en route Sasebo to replenish both.

A P-3 “Orion” aircraft from Misawa took Electro Optical (EO) images of areas in and around Hachinohe, Kuji, Shimanokoshi, Omoto, Taro, Miyako, Kamaishi and Ofunato, finding three new landing zones with groups of displaced people. All imagery from these flights is shared with the Japan Self Defense Forces.

Two U.S. Navy barges, each capable of containing 350,000 gallons of fresh water, are being prepared and filled at Yokosuka for possible transport to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant if needed for the ongoing efforts to cool the damaged reactors.

USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship for the United States Seventh Fleet, arrived in White Beach, Okinawa, to onload supplies and additional personnel to augment the staff. The 7th Fleet Band debarked Blue Ridge to move to Sasebo and conduct a series of performances there in the coming weeks.

During the 11 days since Operation Tomodachi started, U.S. 7th Fleet forces have delivered 438,645 lbs. of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies to survivors of the tsunami and earthquake, in support of Japan Self Defense Force efforts.

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