PACIFIC OCEAN (March 13, 2011) An HH-60H Sea Hawk helicopter lifts off from the guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) after refueling. The helicopter is conducting a search of debris fields in the waters near Sendai, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alexander Tidd)

PACIFIC OCEAN (March 15, 2011) - USS Preble (DDG 88) was one of the first U.S. Navy assets to respond with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in Japan, providing over 700 pounds of supplies to earthquake and tsunami survivors.

Preble along with embarked HSL-43 air detachment personnel were called into action as first responders to survey the coastline and provide an aerial perspective to other ships in the surrounding area.

During the surveillance mission, the pilots and aircrew had firsthand encounters with the Japanese survivors as they landed in various remote locations.

“We could see isolated areas where survivors had drawn in the dirt ‘SOS’ or a large encircled ‘H’ as a cry for help. We landed nearby to assess the situation and determine what we could do to help,” said Lt. Joe Landi describing their patrol.

Upon interacting with the stranded survivors and hearing the firsthand account of HSL-43 crew members, the Preble crew volunteered to provide supplies to the Japanese people from their own deployment provisions. Their contributions included warm weather clothing, wool blankets, non-perishable food and water.

The Supply Department on board also provided as many dry goods and bottles of water as possible. In less than two hours, the messdecks were full of donated supplies for the helicopter to bring to land to aid in the rescue and assistance effort.

USS Preble Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Joe Cahill said, “Today marks a day where we stand with the nation and the people of Japan. I could not be prouder of our team. I am humbled by their selfless generosity and willingness to contribute to the Japanese people in need. It’s amazing what we can get accomplished in such short notice with such limited resources.”

Preble is part of the Ronald Reagan Strike Group and is currently operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Tomodachi.