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Normandy, HSL 46 Det 3 Team Up for Humanitarian Effort in Haiti

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100121-21
Release Date: 1/21/2010 4:46:00 PM

By Lt. j.g. Heather A. Heyob, USS Normandy Public Affairs

USS NORMANDY, At Sea (NNS) -- The Norfolk-based guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) is serving as a platform for its helicopter detachment to deliver needed aid and transport personnel in Haiti's capital, as part of Operation Unified Response.

Normandy, which has been stationed off the Haiti coast since Jan. 16, has been assigned to provide air surveillance and be ready to support potential tasking. The ship left its homeport on Jan. 13 in response to 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince.

Normandy's embarked helicopter detachment, the Mayport-based Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 46, "Grandmasters," Detachment 3, are participating with participating in the multinational, multi-agency relief effort as a crucial air asset. The squadron is will make flights into Port-au-Prince airport and other locations, transporting supplies and personnel to affected areas.

On their first day of humanitarian efforts, the detachment made 19 runs in and out of Port-au-Prince airport and throughout Haiti's capital. The SH-60B helicopter delivered water and meals ready-to-eat to affected areas in Haiti. They supported two medical transports for Haitian nationals, and shuttled U.S. Army Soldiers who will provide security at distribution points.

The diverse set of air assets involved, and tensions on the ground, present HSL 46 personnel with a difficult mission as they continue to transport humanitarian supplies.

"Our biggest challenge will be managing situational awareness to get in and out of the landing zones safely," said Lt. Brian Mowry, an embarked pilot from Pittsburgh.

While the embarked helicopter detachment will be making runs ashore, Normandy's crew members will all be involved in mission accomplishment. Normandy crew members are directly responsible for every successful launch and recovery as members of the flight deck crew, combat information center, engineering plant and bridge teams.

"There are people in need, and we have more than adequate resources." said Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Rachael Rasch, 23, of San Antonio, Texas, who serves as fire hose team leader during flight operations.

"I think we provide a major asset, especially due to the inaccessibility of the piers in Haiti," added Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Drew Etheredge, 23, from Inman, S.C., who serves as an anti-submarine/surface tactical air controller.

In addition to flight operations, Normandy will assist in air space control, and maintaining a networked communication system, connecting U.S. Navy forces in the area with those ashore.

"We are happy to lend our expertise in air control—that's where we can make the most impact," said Normandy Commanding Officer, Capt. Jeffrey T. Griffin.

For more news from USS Normandy. visit www.navy.mil/local/cg60/.



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