USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea (Apr. 3, 2011) - Seventh Fleet forces continue support of Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) in Operation Tomodachi. Today’s efforts include continuing the clean up of Oshima and the search for human remains along the north east coast of Honshu.
150 additional Sailors and Marines from the USS Essex (LHD 2) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) joined the 187-member team that arrived yesterday on the island of Oshima off the coast of Kessnnuma. The crew is taking part in Operation Field Day, a mission to support the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) in the cleaning up the remote island. Oshima has been largely isolated since March 11 when the tsunami washed its ferries ashore making harbor and port clearance operations a top priority. Today, U.S. Sailors and Marines helped JSDF start clean up efforts on the shores of the Uranohama harbor and will move to the shores of the Yogai and Komagata harbors in the next few days. As part of Operation Field Day, the team also continued clearing debris around the Oshimatake Junior High School.
USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46), Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 and Underwater Construction Team 2 are en route to Oshima to assist Japan Self Defense Force (JMSDF) with clearing the debris within the waters of the harbors.
Seventh Fleet ships, helicopters and aircraft continue searching over 2,000 square miles of ocean in a concerted effort to find victims of the March 11 tsunami. USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Curtis D. Wilbur (DDG 54) searched in specific zones off the north east coast of Honshu, with their helicopters, additional support helicopters from the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and one P-3 Orion aircraft providing aerial reconnaissance support. Locations of discovered remains will be marked and that data sent to the JMSDF for retrieval and honorable interment of the victims.
USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) conducted resupply at sea (RAS) activities with USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), and USS Tortuga (LSD 46). USNS Matthew Perry Mathew Perry (T-AKE 9) conducted RAS activities with USS Essex (LHD 2) and the USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10) conducted RAS activities with USNS Pecos (T-AO 197) for fuel. USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4) and USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) are also operating in the waters off Japan in support of Operation Tomodachi bringing the number of U.S. 7th Fleet forces currently actively engaged in the operation to 14 ships, 130 aircraft and 13,893 personnel.
U.S. Navy barges containing 500,000 gallons of fresh water are moored at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, adding this resource to the fresh water cooling efforts. Japanese authorities will use the fresh water to replace salt water currently in some of the reactors.
Since Operation Tomodachi started, U.S. 7th Fleet forces have delivered more than 260 tons of relief supplies to survivors of the tsunami and earthquake and flown 160 aerial reconnaissance an search sorties with more planned in the coming days.
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