PACIFIC OCEAN—The Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group, with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, assisted the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local civilian authorities with initial assessment operations in the CNMI on Sept 11 following Typhoon Mangkhut.
The Department of Defense stood up a defense coordination office and is working with the CNMI Joint Information Center to monitor, assess and plan for possible requests.
Commander, Task Force 76 is supporting Defense Support to Civil Authorities efforts on Rota, Tinian and Saipan.
Navy and Marine Corps aircraft began aerial surveys of the islands of Rota, Saipan, and Tinian, while ESG leadership met with local leaders and FEMA officials to assess relief priorities.
Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet—who was joined by Col. Robert Brodie, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Capt. Jim McGovern, commander of the Amphibious Squadron 11—said the ESG is here to provide support to local relief efforts.
“The presidential emergency declaration reflects the seriousness of the situation on the ground in CNMI,” said Cooper. “We are pleased that our Navy-Marine Corps Team is positioned to support FEMA in this important DSCA operation to help the people of CNMI.”
In order to move equipment and personnel to the islands, the ESG team conducted surveys of potential landing sites on all three islands. Aerial surveys were conducted by MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters assigned to the “Island Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 and MV-22 Ospreys assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262. Ground surveys were conducted by sailors from Naval Beach Unit 7, who were flown ashore to assess damage caused by the typhoon.
“Our priority was to find suitable locations clear of debris, large enough to land our LCUs [landing craft, utility] and LCACs [landing craft, air cushion], that were safe for personnel to conduct operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Louis Peters, officer in charge of NBU 7.
Defense Support of Civil authorities is the process by which the Department of Defense provides support to FEMA, working with Guam and CNMI’s civil and local officials. (PR)