NORFOLK, Va . – After supporting relief to the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian by providing unique military capabilities, Sailors and Marines returned to Norfolk this week.
They include service members from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), Helicopter Mine Countermeasure Squadron (HM)-14 and HM-15 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9 and HSC-26.
The Bataan ARG provided support to the U.S. Agency for International Development enabling the broader effort to address the acute humanitarian needs of the Bahamian people, under the direction of U.S. Northern Command.
The Bataan ARG operated in international waters, comprising amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) and sailors and marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Also, four MH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters were forward-staged at Homestead Air Reserve Base in Southern Florida within 25 miles south of Miami.
“In the wake of the strongest storm to hit the Bahamas, I am proud of the hard work, dedication and professionalism of our wing,” said Capt. Shawn Bailey, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic commander. “They rose to the occasion to help those in need.”
Aviation and logistics capabilities were provided by the Navy and Marine Corps around the geographically dispersed Bahamian Islands.
Humanitarian supplies were transported by medium-lift MH-60 Seahawk and heavy-lift CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters, along with heavy lift tilt-rotor MV-22B Ospreys. Dozens of military and civilian medical personnel, transported by Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, provided water, food, medical supplies, search-and-rescue gear, tarps and solar lights in the cities of Eleuthera, Freeport and Marsh Harbour.
USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team personnel and Urban Search and Rescue personnel were transported by the aircraft to Marsh Harbour. United Nations Office for Coordination of Human Affairs personnel were transported to Grand Bahamas. A U.S. Air Force Airfield Assessment Team were transported to Marsh Harbour and Sandy Point, to evaluate the Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport.
As part of joint military support to USAID, Marine Corps CH-53Es provided ground refueling of U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
Air Traffic Control Sailors aboard New York and Bataan helped monitor airspace safety for military aircraft in critical areas near Marsh Harbour to enable those air operations.
To fill pallets of water that were transferred by air to Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay and Moore’s Island, the Bataan, New York and Oak Hill used their shipboard freshwater-making capabilities.
Click here to learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2019 hurricane season response efforts.