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SOUTHCOM Diverts Navy Ship to Support Hurricane Relief

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070906-01
Release Date: 9/6/2007 8:46:00 AM


From U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs

MIAMI (NNS) -- U.S. Southern Command diverted the USS Wasp (LHD 1) from an international maritime exercise in Panama to the coast of Nicaragua Sept. 5 to assist with disaster relief efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Felix.

The redeployment of the U.S. Navy amphibious ship was directed in response to a request for international assistance from the government of Nicaragua and in close coordination with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Wasp, homeported in Norfolk, Va., was operating in the sea lanes approaching the Panama Canal as a command and control vessel for a fleet of more than 30 multinational ships participating in exercise Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2007. It is expected to arrive off the coast of Nicaragua Sept. 6.

“USS Wasp, already operating in the Caribbean Sea, transitioned quickly from its exercise scenario into an operational capability ready to coordinate and synchronize U.S. military assistance to the people of Nicaragua,” said Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., U.S. Southern Command director of operations.

As part of its mission, U.S. Southern Command routinely conducts humanitarian assistance operations with partner nations in its area of focus and assists USAID and regional countries with disaster relief efforts in times of crisis.

U.S. Southern Command has previously provided support to Nicaraguan emergency response officials in times of crisis, including the delivery of relief supplies and equipment following the passing Hurricane Beta on Oct. 30, 2005, and the deployment of medical assistance teams to Nicaragua in 2006 to aid burn and alcohol-poisoning victims.

U.S. Southern Command military planners continue to work with interagency partners and their counterparts in countries affected by Felix to assess recovery needs in the affected areas and identify additional U.S. military units that may be able to provide assistance.

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