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Essex to relieve Bonhomme Richard

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200511725729
Story by CSF-536 Combined Information Bureau

ROYAL THAI AIR BASE, UTAPAO, Thailand (Jan. 17, 2005) -- The USS Essex (LHD 2) will relieve USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) on station Jan. 18 off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The ship will support the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief mission that's assisting victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami. Essex was redirected from U.S. Central Command's area of operations and will remain off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, until the humanitarian assistance mission is complete.

Essex becomes part of CSF-536, which is commanded by Lt. Gen. Robert R. Blackman in Utapao, Thailand. Essex is the Navy's only forward deployed amphibious helicopter carrier equipped with four MH-53 heavy lift helicopters, two MH-60 helicopters and two Landing Craft Air Cushion (hovercraft). The capabilities of the ship are ideally suited to meet the current needs of the relief effort, allowing for quick access to remote areas and the ability to move cargo from the coastal areas with helicopters and amphibious craft. Additionally, Essex is well equipped to carry out its secondary mission of providing high-level hospital care if needed.

Bonhomme Richard took station off the coast of Sumatra within days of the Tsunami disaster and has been conducting near round-the-clock relief efforts since arriving. The ship was previously scheduled to deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of operations and will proceed there for future tasking.

The Bonhomme Richard has delivered more than 1.5 million of the 2.75 million pounds of relief material to tsunami survivors in Indonesia via its helicopter deliveries and LCAC runs from the sea.

Combined Support Force-536 will remain actively engaged in the relief effort, providing support as requested by host nations. However, according to plan, relief efforts continue with numerous government and non-government organizations beginning to take control many of the relief efforts in the region.

EDITOR'S NOTE:For digital images regarding the USS Essex or additional information regarding Combined Support Force-536 and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief in South/Southeast Asia, visit http://www.marines.mil/CSF536/.

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