7th Fleet Relief Support Update (March 15)
USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea (March 15, 2011) - The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to include the cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88), and the combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10) along with the guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) continue operations off the east coast of Honshu. An additional destroyer, USS Mustin (DDG 89), is at sea south of the disaster site.
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group flew 29 sorties today for Humanitarian Aid lift ashore, delivering 17 tons of supplies including food, water and blankets. A total of 25 tons has been delivered to date. Aircraft also conducted 3 sorties for coastal search and rescue today.
We continue monitor the winds closely, moving our ships ships and aircraft as necessary to avoid the windline from the Fukushima Power Plant. Aircraft and aircrews returning from missions ashore are being monitored carefully for contamination, and are conducting decontamination procedures as necessary when it is detected.
This morning, sensitive instrumentation on USS George Washington pier-side in Yokosuka detected low levels of radioactivity from the Fukushima plant. While there was no danger to the public, Commander, Naval Forces Japan recommended limited precautionary measures for personnel and their families on Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, including limiting outdoor activities and securing external ventilation systems as much as practical. These measures are strictly precautionary in nature. We do not expect that any United States Federal radiation exposure limits will be exceeded even if no precautionary measures are taken.
USS Tortuga (LSD 46), with two heavy-lift MH-53 helicopters embarked, is in Tomokomai, Hokkaido, to onload about 300 Japan Ground Self Defense Force personnel and 90 vehicles. The ship will steam tonight to Ominato on the island of Honshu to deliver the JGSDF personnel and vehicles.
USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, continue their transit to the area, arriving on March 17. Given the radiological and navigation hazards on the eastern coast of Honshu, the ships will take position in the Sea of Japan on the west coast of Honshu, where they will be in the best position to launch disaster relief missions over land.
U.S. Navy P-3 "Orion" aircraft from VP-4 in Kadena AFB, Okinawa, flew two missions to survey and assess the debris field at sea.
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