Operation Sea Angel II
On 15 November 2007, Cyclone Sidr made landfall after developing in the Bay of Bengal. The storm subsequently devastated Bangladesh, with the resulting damage and casualties making it the worst such storm since Cyclone Marian in 1991. Cyclone Sidr caused massive flooding and infrastructure damage in the country. As in 1991, the United States responded by dispatching elements of the US military to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Sea Angel II, led by Joint Task Force Sea Angel II. This was in reference to the relief mission launched following Cyclone Marian, codenamed Operation Sea Angel.
During the week of 19 November 2007, US Pacific Command (PACOM) sent a humanitarian assistance survey team to Bangladesh to assess support requirements with the Bangladesh military. Additionally, a Department of Defense medical team from US Pacific Command that was conducting military to military medical training in Bangladesh remained after the completion of their training engagement to assist with relief efforts if needed.
On 23 November 2007, the US Department of Defense released a statement that PACOM was providing additional humanitarian assistance to reduce further loss of life and mitigate human suffering resulting from Tropical Cyclone Sidr. US Pacific Command was conducting the operation in support of the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Relief, and in cooperation with the humanitarian community and Bangladesh government. US Pacific Command was providing transportation assistance, to include heavy lift helicopter support. US Navy and Marine Corps helicopters from the USS Kearsarge and the USS Tarawa would assist with the transportation of relief supplies, equipment and personnel.
Also on 22-23 November 2007, the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, as well as elements of Amphibious Squadron 8 and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) arrived off the coast of Bangladesh to support ongoing disaster relief operations as part of Operation Sea Angel II. At the request of the Government of Bangladesh, Kearsarge and 22nd MEU(SOC) were coordinating with government officials, military leaders, and international aid organizations to determine how best to focus the added capabilities of the US naval forces against relief efforts. Kearsarge had departed its home port of Norfolk, Virginia on 30 July 2007 for a regularly scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations. Kearsarge was subsequently directed to make best speed towards Bangladesh from the Arabian Sea when it became apparent that the storm was going to make landfall. Kearsarge and the 22nd MEU (SOC) planned to use a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter, a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, and an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter to transport supplies. They also planned to use an LCAC, which had the capability of moving up to 825 tons of aid per day.
After arriving, Kearsarge and the 22nd MEU(SOC) started delivering water immediately on 23 November 2007, and by 30 November 2007 they had delivered over 12,000 gallons of water and over 73,000 pounds of the aid materials. A majority of the water delivered initially was produced aboard Kearsarge, which had the capability to produce 200,000 gallons of fresh water daily. Five-gallon collapsible bags were filled with the water, placed on pallets and loaded into the aircraft for distribution. Doctors and medics ashore had seen over 600 cases as 30 November 2007 and elements of the force transported USAID and NGO observers to some of the remote places to make assessments on the ground. The elements of Joint Task Force Sea Angel II worked hand in hand with the Bangladeshi military delivering aid under their guidance and direction to the sites that they deemed the aid needed to be transported to.
On 26 November 2007, USAID pledged to make available over $10 million of food assistance for the relief and immediate recovery efforts for the Cyclone Sidr response in Bangladesh. This brought the US government total response to more than $14.4 million in emergency funds, commodities and transportation to date.
The amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa and its embarked 11th MEU(SOC) arrived off the coast of Bangladesh on 3 December 2007 to support ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Sea Angel II. They joined the USS Kearsarge and the 22nd MEU(SOC), already active support operations in the country. Tarawa and the 11th MEU(SOC) were to relieve Kearsarge and the 22nd MEU(SOC). Tarawa had left its homeport of San Diego, California on 5 November 2007 for a routine Western Pacific deployment in support of maritime security operations before being directed to make best speed towards Bangladesh.
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