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USS Underwood, HSL-60 Return Home from Haiti Operations

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100211-11
Release Date: 2/11/2010 2:17:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Leah Stiles, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Southeast

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) and Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 60, returned home to Mayport, Fla. on Feb. 9, after a one-month deployment to Port-Au-Prince area of Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response.

Initially the crew departed Jan. 12 to conduct a four day underway period and complete the required work ups to prepare them for a scheduled deployment. However, early morning on Jan. 13 Underwood and HSL-60 were called upon to divert to Haiti.

They were one of the first military assets to arrive at the battered country. The "Jaguars" of HSL-60 flew over 170 hours delivered 850 cases of food, 850 cases of water, flew 84 medevac missions, transported close to 600 personnel and moved over 62,000 pounds of equipment in a little over two weeks.

"Being in the military, we are warfighters first and foremost, but we are very compassionate people," said USS Underwood's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Craig Bowden. "Everyone aboard Underwood and in the Navy as a whole wants to make sure that the people of Haiti or whoever needs help around the world get it."

Underwood also provided a platform and equipment for Navy Oceanographic Center Fleet Survey Team (FST), Stennis Space Center. FST executed their mission to scan the ocean floor for obstructions and replaced navigational aids so that relief ships could safely transit and anchor in Port-Au-Prince Harbor.

"The multi-integration of different detachments working together provided a unique situation where each member's contributions were critical to the operational success of the detachment," said HSL-60 Executive Officer Cmdr. Michael Steffen.

"This mission demonstrated the flexibility of the U.S. Navy. In addition to warfighting, we are always ready and able to transition into the role of humanitarian assistance when called upon." said Steffen. "This mission was some of the most gratifying work this squadron has ever accomplished and it represents the compassion the American people feel toward our Haitian neighbors."

The medical staff aboard Underwood saw many patients while in Haiti and the rest of the crew jumped in to help where needed.

"There was not much pain medicine to go around, so sometimes, holding a hand or giving a hug was we could do," said Yeoman First Class (SW/AW) Jeremy Campbell.

"The thankfulness in their eyes was obvious as I comforted them and there was a gracious hope in their expressions, it's something that I will carry forever. It has been undoubtedly my finest moment as a Sailor and an American," said Campbell.

On station with Underwood and HSL-60 in Haiti were USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Fort McHenry(LSD 43), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USNS Comfort, and other U.S. amphibious and U.S. Coast Guard ships.

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