NORTHERN JAPAN (March 20, 2011) Lance Cpl. Anthony Jecker, a crew chief assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 265 is thanked by a man at an evacuation center in Northern Japan after delivering relief supplies. (U.S. navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ben Farone)

USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea (March 21, 2011) - A total of 12,750 personnel, 20 ships, and 140 aircraft of U.S. 7th Fleet are continuing to participate in Operation Tomodachi. Today, utilizing 14 helicopters, the fleet delivered more than 47 tons of relief supplies bringing the total of aid delivered to Japan since the beginning of the crisis to 227 tons.

USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Tortuga (LSD 46) along with USS Essex (LHD 2) and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are off the coast near Hachinohe to assist humanitarian aid efforts along the affected northeastern coast to reach people in remote areas where the tsunami hit hardest. Ships of the Essex ARG conducted underway replenishment today with the USNS Matthew Perry.

Helicopters with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (Reinforced), 31st MEU, flew two CH-46 helicopters from the USS Essex to deliver humanitarian aid supplies including blankets and fresh water to Miyako city. The pilots also conducted aerial surveys of 200 miles of the affected coastline between Miyako and Ofunato.

A P-3 from VP-4 deployed to Misawa conducted reconnaissance of coastal areas to continue the search for displaced people and to find new landing zones to service them.

USS George Washington got underway from Yokosuka today to assure the ship can sustain a state of readiness in the long term for the defense of Japan. The forward deployed carrier is scheduled to remain in the local waters off Japan. Moving USS George Washington is a precaution given the capabilities of the vessel and the complex nature of this disaster. USS Lassen also departed Yokosuka today.

The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to include USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Mustin (89) and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) along with USS Cowpens (CG-63) and USS Shiloh (CG-67) continued operations north of Sendai. Strike group helicopters carried 17 tons of supplies to 24 separate sites, and identified 16 additional sites where groups of people are isolated to be serviced with supplies in the coming days. Aircrews report that people on the ground are particularly interested in receiving shipments of gasoline, kerosene or diesel fuel.

USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship for the United States Seventh Fleet, conducted a connected replenishment with USNS Pecos today in the vicinity of Nagasaki.

The commander, U.S. Pacific Command, directed that precautionary measures be taken due to the potential of future radiological exposures, including directing the distribution of potassium iodide (KI) tablets to military personnel and their families in Yokosuka and Atsugi. Personnel in Yokosuka and Atsugi will not actually take KI unless advised to do so by U.S. or Japanese authorities. Seventh Fleet personnel conducting disaster relief missions inside of 100 nautical miles from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant continue to take KI as a precautionary measure.

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

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