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USS Cleveland, Seabees to Take Relief Equipment to Pakistan

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051023-03
Release Date: 10/23/2005 11:30:00 PM


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

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Amphibious ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) loaded 37 pieces of Seabee equipment headed for Pakistan Oct. 22 as part of the international effort to aid survivors of the devastating 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck the region.

“They basically asked for everything we’ve got,” said Senior Chief Steelworker Tim Bray, of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3. Based in Port Hueneme, Calif., NMCB 3 had been in Bahrain on a regularly-scheduled deployment barely a month when they were asked to send their heavy machinery to Karachi, Pakistan, aboard USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) Oct. 16.

Bray said this second shipment consisted of light trucks, accessory trailers, light plants and generators to be turned over to the U.S. Army for use in the ongoing recovery operations.

The United States is supporting Pakistani relief efforts with specific capabilities, and U.S. forces, like Cleveland and other members of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 1 have a supporting role in this effort.

Rear Adm. Michael Lefever, commander of ESG 1, leads the Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) in Islamabad, where U.S. military relief efforts are coordinated.

Bray, whose battalion is also sending a 125-man tent for U.S. disaster assistance teams in Pakistan, said he was happy to assist the DAC through the use of NMCB 3’s assets.

“That’s what we do,” he said. “We always have the ability to help, and a lot of our mission is to support humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery. That’s one of the major missions of the battalion.”

Capt. Michael B. Chase, commanding officer of Cleveland, said his ship was forward deployed to the Gulf in support of maritime security operations and had stopped off in Bahrain for crew liberty and routine maintenance.

“We just happened to be in port in Bahrain taking care of ship’s maintenance and giving the crew a little bit of liberty, and the ESG was called upon to provide transportation for a large amount of equipment and tons of supplies,” Chase said. He explained that since Cleveland is an amphibious transport ship, so his crew was already familiar with how to hoist, secure and transport large vehicles and containers.

“It’s a great blending of our missions and a great opportunity to help,” he said.

In addition to the Seabee equipment, Chase said Cleveland would also take food and supplies donated by the French navy to Pakistan. He said his crew was grateful for the chance to help their Pakistani counterparts.

“I’m honored that we’re helping people out, no matter where we are,” said Cleveland Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Delwen Sutton, of Athens, Ga. “I’m glad to be a part of it.”

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