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Tarawa Completes Military Element of Humanitarian Operations in Bangladesh

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071210-15
Release Date: 12/10/2007 4:43:00 PM

From USS Tarawa Public Affairs

USS TARAWA, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1), as well as elements of Amphibious Squadron 1 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) completed the military support element of ongoing disaster relief operations in Bangladesh on Dec. 7.

At the request of the government of Bangladesh, Tarawa Sailors and Marines brought significant air, sea and medical capabilities to the region from Dec. 3-7, providing additional aid and comfort to the victims of Tropical Cyclone Sidr following the initial support provided by USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).

"The Sailors and Marines of Tarawa did an outstanding job completing the military assistance element of this humanitarian mission," said Capt. John Miley, commodore, Amphibious Squadron 1. "I know everyone on board was glad to be able to help provide disaster relief to the people of Bangladesh after their devastating losses following the cyclone."

Tarawa Sailors and Marines delivered over 49,000 pounds of supplies, including blankets, water purification tablets and food.

"The blue-green team worked efficiently, they worked effectively and most importantly, they worked safely in some challenging conditions," said Col. John Bullard, commander, 11th MEU (SOC). "But I think it was evidence of how effective sea-based operations are for relief efforts –we had a minimal footprint ashore, but we were still more than able to deliver significant relief to those places most in need."

Heavy and medium-lift helicopters from Tarawa flew over 29 sorties in 43.5 hours in support of the relief operations. Two medical teams additionally provided care to nearly 727 patients in just three days.

"Not only were we a blue-green team from having trained extensively for this type of operation, we integrated really well with the local Bangladeshi medical personnel," said Lt. Jackie Jensen, family physician, Fleet Surgical Team 3. "Although treating storm related injuries such as cuts, bruises, and broken bones was our primary goal, we had a great opportunity to cooperate with local Bangladeshi hospitals and maximize medical treatment."

"Only by working together with our Bangladeshi counterparts were we able to complete the military portion of the relief effort and assist them in transitioning to a fully civilian effort," said Miley. "Tarawa Sailors and Marines were glad to be able to participate and make that transition as easy and seamless as possible."

Tarawa and elements of the 11th MEU (SOC) arrived on-station after being redirected from a regular scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific and the Middle East in support of the global war on terrorism and will continue on their scheduled deployment to perform maritime security operations or other missions as required.

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