YOKOSUKA, Japan - Here is the Nov. 19 Seventh Fleet update for Operation Damayan.
USS George Washington leaders met with Philippine Navy Vice Commander Rear Admiral Jaime Bernadino yesterday in a very productive meeting onboard the aircraft carrier. They discussed the ongoing transition from the US Navy’s initial emergency response role with aircraft carrier and helicopter support, to the role for USS Ashland and Germantown to assist the long-term relief efforts.
Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery commented: “What struck me here was that even with the heavily damaged infrastructure from the typhoon, the preservation of civil society was impressive. The discipline, strength and resilience of the Philippine people and government really show by the maintenance of good civil order. I recognize that there is a long road ahead, but I can't help but be moved by the resilience of the Philippine people."
Right now we are seeing encouraging signs that ground routes are opening significantly for delivery by trucks instead of helicopters. Ground transportation is much more efficient and can transport a greater load of supplies over the long term. Over the first few days during our initial emergency response a vast majority of transport was carried via helicopter, while now we see 80-85 percent of relief supplies going by truck.
Current information from the Government of the Philippines is there is less demand for air support from USS George Washington and the carrier will likely be desired for another two days or so, with the Germantown and Ashland assuming the lead in relief duties. I expect USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) to arrive early morning on Wednesday Nov 20.
Flight hours flown: 163 yesterday for a total of 656.
Water Delivered: 48,000 liters yesterday pounds for a total of 417,000.
Food, dry stores and medical supplies delivered: 64,000 pounds yesterday pounds for a total of 290,000 pounds.
Distressed passengers transported: 205 yesterday for a total of 724.
We are concentrating a majority of our remaining efforts in Samar/Guiuan, which continues to be the hub for supply transport. We are flying a number of missions to transport Republic of Philippine police, military and emergency personnel but a majority of supplies are now being carried by truck.
South of Tacloban in the Leyte Gulf/Tacloban area we are focusing about 35 percent of our efforts. One possible location for our amphibious ships is San Pedro Bay (near Tacloban) on the 20th.
In Ormoc Bay we have seen almost all roads back open and supplies being carried by truck. Helicopter transport has not been needed to a great extent there.
USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway from Singapore to deliver supplies to support Operation Damayan. She has one helicopter onboard.
All support the U.S. Navy provides is part of the broader U.S. Government effort to support the Philippines’ request for humanitarian assistance.