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U.S. , French Navies Team Up to Assist Earthquake Victims in Pakistan

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051020-04
Release Date: 10/20/2005 9:30:00 AM

By Journalist 2nd Class Cassandra Thompson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- American and French Sailors worked together in Bahrain Oct. 19 to get some of life’s basic supplies – bread, milk and flour – to victims of the Oct. 8 earthquake in Pakistan.

The crew of French supply ship FS Var (A608), the flagship for Commander, Task Force 150, a multinational coalition which usually operates in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea, craned off more than two tons of food supplies destined for Pakistan.

Cmdr. Rémi Poisot, commanding officer of Var, said French coalition ships pooled their resources, making the staple goods available to those in need.

“The food was part of our cargo,” Poisot said. “But after the earthquake in Pakistan, we asked our superiors in France about the possibility to redirect some of the pallets of the cargo to Pakistan to help the people in need.”

From Var, the food went to USS Cleveland (LPD 7) for transport to Pakistan. Both ships stopped in the island nation of Bahrain for brief port visits, which made the ship-to-ship transfer possible.

“We are not scheduled to go to [Pakistan], but as you know, we have a very good relationship with the U.S. Navy,” Poisot said. “And so we took advantage of our port visit in Bahrain to give the U.S. Navy these pallets.”

Cleveland, an amphibious transport dock ship that usually carries Marines and military assault vehicles, expects to collect more Pakistan-bound food and other supplies during their Bahrain visit.

“Things are being put together very rapidly from a variety of organizations,” said Capt. Michael B. Chase, commanding officer of Cleveland. “We’re expecting to bring aboard a full load, primarily of food this time and also some smaller equipment. Humanitarian supplies are very important in a natural disaster, and with winter coming soon, many people are without homes, without food.”

Chase said his crew felt honored to help those impacted by the recent earthquake.

“The people of Pakistan are our friends,” he said. “We’re grateful for their friendship. We’re grateful for their unwavering support of the war on terrorism. And we’re happy to be able to help them by carrying large amounts of food and equipment from the French and the combined effort of several nations.”

Chase also said his crew related on a very personal level to the Pakistani victims’ suffering.

“As you know, we’ve had a series of natural disasters in our own country recently,” Chase said. “That is fresh in the minds of our crew and reminds us that any country can suffer a natural disaster [and] have people who are displaced or have people who are in danger.”

In addition to assisting Pakistanis, Var and Cleveland are deployed to the region to support maritime security operations. Being in the area allowed both ships to respond quickly to the tragedy.

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