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Homeland Security

Navy and Marine Helicopters Begin Relief Flights in Indonesia

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS091009-08
Release Date: 10/9/2009 9:07:00 AM

By Lt. Mike Morley, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Public Affairs

PADANG, Indonesia (NNS) -- Just hours after USS Denver (LPD9) and USS McCampbell (DDG 85) arrived offshore here, helicopters from both ships started flying urgently needed emergency supplies to remote areas of Western Sumatra Oct. 9.

The first flight of the day was a Marine CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked on the USS Denver. The crew flew more than 8,000 pounds of emergency food packs to Kototinggi, a remote mountain village isolated when landslides blocked the road leading to it.

The Indonesian government has requested assistance with humanitarian efforts following a devastating earthquake that struck the region Sept. 30, killing more than 750 people, collapsing thousands of buildings, triggering landslides that engulfed entire villages and destroyed roads.

"These helicopters are a key enabler of the relief effort," said Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. "Our Indonesian hosts have been appreciative of the U.S. military's flexibility and our willingness to help in any way," Landolt added. "We are working closely with the Indonesians, the State Department, and non-governmental organizations to maximize the assets we have among us."

Throughout the day, other helicopters, including Navy SH-6B Seahawks of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 51 aboard USS McCampbell, flew supplies and surveyors from international aid agencies into remote areas to complete relief assessments.

Amphibious Force 7th Fleet is responsible for all aspects of the U.S. military's participation in the relief efforts, which currently includes two Navy ships; a U.S. Air Force humanitarian assistance rapid response team (HARRT) mobile hospital, which has treated more than 400 patients in its first three days of operation; and elements of the 353rd Special Operations Group.

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