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Bonhomme Richard Exploits Sea-Based Support to Provide Relief to Tsunami Stricken Sumatra

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050112-01
Release Date: 1/12/2005 8:23:00 AM

By Chief Journalist Walter T. Ham IV, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- By using its airlift and sealift capabilities for replenishment at sea and delivery ashore, multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) is assisting tsunami victims from the maritime maneuver area around the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Operating from the sea base, naval forces are delivering important relief to the victims of Indonesia, proving the viability of the Navy's Sea Basing concept.

"This is what our Navy does best. We can get there and stay there as long as necessary," said Capt. J. Scott Jones, commanding officer of the San Diego-based BHR. "Sea Basing is what gives us the kind of reach and staying power needed to prevail in battle or to aid after a disaster."

Along the west coast of Sumatra, where many cities, hospitals and clinics were decimated, BHR's medical team, augmented by medical professionals from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Fleet Surgical Team 9, are able to provide rapid medical support on station.

"Bonhomme Richard also operates as a sea-based logistical support center," said Jones. "Not only does BHR's Supply Department cover the entire ship, but they also cover the ship's many embarked commands, as well as other ships."

BHR also provides considerable repair facilities and technical expertise that are exportable to other units in the area.

"This allows for the Expeditionary Strike Group to act as a sea base for operations for extended periods of time between the arrival of the Navy's supply ships that cover the oceans of the world," Jones said.

According to Jones, BHR can operate off the coast indefinitely and deliver either lethal combat power or life-saving aid ashore, whenever and wherever it's needed.

"There's really no better friend or ally than the Navy/Marine Corps team," said Jones, a native of Leesburg, Fla. "Our ability to stay on station and quickly deliver tons and tons of equipment ashore is a unique advantage in a situation like this one."

While BHR's technological prowess is unparalleled, Jones said Sailors and Marines are the key to success in any operation.

"The men and women who commit themselves to the defense of our country are what makes the United States of America and its Navy great," Jones said. "All of our technology means nothing without these brave men and women operating and maintaining it here on the point."

"We have the best and brightest of our great nation here on this ship," Jones said. "They are making life better for the survivors of this horrific natural disaster. They are doing what Americans always do: standing up for those in need."

Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of Expeditionary Strike Group 5, currently conducting humanitarian relief operations off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

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