In this file photo, an MH-60R Seahawk from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 takes off from the flight deck of USS George Washington (CVN 73) in the South China Sea, Oct. 22. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Peter Burghart)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and her strike group departed early from their port visit to Hong Kong Nov. 12 and are en route to the Republic of the Philippines to support humanitarian efforts in response to Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda by order of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

The ships and aircraft should be on station within 48-72 hours and will be able to provide humanitarian assistance, supplies, and medical care in support of the ongoing efforts led by the government and military of the Republic of the Philippines.

The USS George Washington, which carries 5,000 Sailors and more than 60 aircraft, will be accompanied by her strike group with the cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and the destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89). USS Lassen (DDG 82) got underway from Hong Kong yesterday. Embarked on board USS George Washington, is Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5). The supply ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) is already underway and will rendezvous with the group as they get closer.

"The U.S. 7th Fleet's ability to rapidly respond to the Philippine government's request reaffirms the value of the close cooperation between our two nations." said Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas Jr., commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.

The strike group and her air wing, which includes 21 helicopters, bring significant medical capabilities and the ability to make and deliver fresh clean water.

Air Wing 5 is a collection of aircraft designed to perform various functions including disaster relief and includes the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 flying the MH-60S Seahawk; and the "Saberhawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 flying the MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.