U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Amphibious assault ships USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) are providing humanitarian relief efforts for Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Virgin Islands. They join the Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The USS Wasp was the first to arrive in the Caribbean and is providing medium and heavy lift helicopters to transport people and supplies. Its helicopters are conducting medical evacuations for intensive care patients from St. Thomas to St. Croix and conducting site assessments on the initial damage in St. Thomas.
Wasp departed for Sasebo, Japan, on August 30 to assume duties as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious force of the U.S. 7th Fleet. It was conducting its transit and was redirected to assist with relief efforts.
Kearsarge and Oak Hill departed Norfolk on August 31 to support relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey. They were redirected to be in a position to support efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
The combined aircraft on all three ships include three UH-1Y Marine Utility Helicopters, three CH-53E Marine Heavy Lift Helicopters, five MV-22 Marine Tiltrotor aircraft and nine MH-60S Navy Medium Lift Helicopters.
These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs and maritime security, among other duties.
As Hurricane Irma moves through the Caribbean and approaches the East Coast of the United States, the federal government’s top priority is to minimize suffering and protect the lives and safety of those in the storm’s path.