PACIFIC OCEAN (March 25, 2011) Sailors aboard USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) pass boxes of humanitarian aid supplies to an SH-60 Seahawk while at sea east of Miyagi Prefecture. The humanitarian aid supplies that were loaded onto the helicopter will be delivered in support of Operation Tomodachi to Sendai, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Pittman)

PACIFIC OCEAN (March 26, 2011) - Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) banded together to donate humanitarian aid supplies while at sea east of the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan.

Fitzgerald conducted a replenishment at sea operation with USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7) March 24 and took on 30 pallets stocked with humanitarian aid supplies such as blankets, food and water, hygiene products, medicine and warm clothing to donate to the population hit hardest by the disaster.

Boxes were also placed in the ship's store and on the mess decks where Sailors could donate items.

Several helicopter landed aboard Fitzgerald March 25 to collect the humanitarian aid supplies to fly to the people of Sendai, and several more will arrive to collect the remaining supplies in the next several days.

"While we did receive several pallets of humanitarian aid [from Carl Brashear] to send to the people of Japan, our crew wanted to take a more direct approach and donate some of their own personal effects to those in need.” said Lt. j.g. Elizabeth Claxton, Fitzgerald’s assistant supply officer. “Our ship store also has a full stock of toiletries, socks and T-shirts, and perishable food that Sailors could purchase to donate to the people of Sendai.

"The charity drive was amazing," Claxton said. "We've had Sailors spend 50 dollars at the ship store for things that they wanted to donate, and overall the crew purchased over 1,500 dollars worth of donations. Considering that the people who purchased items for donation at the ship store was the minority compared to Sailors who donated their own belongings, this really is a testament to this crew’s dedication to the people of Japan.”

“This really was a wonderful idea, and I am only too proud to help out,” said Senior Chief Fire Controlman Daniel Bowen, a Sailor aboard Fitzgerald that donated blankets and several items of clothing. “I’ve lived in Japan for nine years, and I’ve since fallen in love with this country’s culture and people. I am truly proud to help out to repay the Japanese people for their kindness.”

Fitzgerald, the flagship of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, is at sea providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to Japan as directed in support of Operation Tomodachi. Other ships from DESRON 15 assisting with humanitarian efforts in Japan include USS Curtiss Wilbur (DDG 54), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Mustin (DDG 89).