PACIFIC OCEAN (March 19, 2011) Sailors and Marines aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) load humanitarian assistance supplies onto an HH-60H Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Black Knights of Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4. Ronald Reagan is operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance as directed in support of Operation Tomodachi. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicholas A. Groesch)

USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea (March 20, 2011) - Seventh Fleet forces continued sustainment of life efforts in support of Operation Tomodachi. A total of 12,750 personnel, 20 ships, and 140 aircraft are participating in Operation Tomodachi. Seventh Fleet forces have delivered more than 126 tons of relief supplies to date.

The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to include the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, the destroyer USS Preble, the guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald, USS John S. McCain, USS McCampbell, USS Mustin and USS Curtis Wilbur, along with the cruisers USS Cowpens and USS Shiloh, continue operations at sea north of Sendai.

Helicopters delivered more than 16 tons to 15 different sites today, including isolated areas and remote islands off the coast of Sendai.

F/A-18s conducted two aerial reconnaissance missions using the Shared Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP). To date, they have taken and carefully reviewed over 61,000 images to look for “SOS” or other distress signs, or groups of isolated people. The imagery is being shared with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

The USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), to include USS Germantown and USS Harpers Ferry and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are in the vicinity of Hachinohe, and will relocate to the vicinity of Ofunato and Kamaishi ports to conduct humanitarian relief operations using their embarked heavy-lift helicopters and amphibious craft to carry relief supplies ashore. The ships carry a total of four CH-53E, 12 CH-46, and 2 MH-60 helicopters.

USS Tortuga is operating in the vicinity of Hachinohe. It will conduct a replenishment with the USNS Matthew Perry tomorrow. Matthew Perry is carrying 189 pallets of humanitarian supplies which it will deliver to the Essex ARG and Reagan Strike Group over the coming days.

One P-3 aircraft from VP-4 in Misawa conducted a reconnaissance mission today of area ports to assess the condition and share information with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship for the United States Seventh Fleet, is operating in the vicinity of Nagasaki. It will conduct a replenishment with USNS Pecos tomorrow.

All Seventh Fleet ships, including USS George Washington and USS Lassen which are currently conducting maintenance in Yokosuka, are increasing their readiness posture in order to be prepared to conduct any tasking ordered. Carrier Airwing Five fixed wing aircraft have relocated to Guam in order to free ramp space at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Families of Seventh Fleet Sailors in Yokosuka and Atsugi have started to depart voluntarily as part of the Military Assisted Departure for Department of Defense personnel.

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