Home » News & Analysis » Mesa Verde, Navy P-8 Arrive in Haiti To Support Relief Effort; Iwo Jima To Arrive This Week


Mesa Verde, Navy P-8 Arrive in Haiti To Support Relief Effort; Iwo Jima To Arrive This Week

A medical vehicle attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU), drives aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) during an Oct. 7 onload of more than 500 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and nearly 300 pallets of supplies. US Navy photo.

A medical vehicle attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU), drives aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) during an Oct. 7 onload of more than 500 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and nearly 300 pallets of supplies. US Navy photo.

Amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) is in Haiti today and amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) is en route to respond to the island nation that suffered infrastructure destruction from winds and flooding, a death toll of more than 1,000 and now a cholera outbreak after Hurricane Matthew made landfall last week.

About 100 Marines from Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SP MAGTF) Southern Command were already on the island to begin flying water and supplies to areas of the island cut off due to damaged roads and bridges. A Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance plane out of Naval Station Jacksonville, Fla., has been conducting aerial assessments of the island to help direct aid efforts – which have primarily focused on the area near Jeremie on the southwest peninsula of the island, which has been largely cut off from the capital of Port-au-Prince.

As of Oct. 9, these Marines and other military forces comprising Joint Task Force Matthew delivered 50,000 pounds of aid and supplies with about 300 personnel in Haiti.

U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command deployed in support of Joint Task Force Matthew, load boxes from United States Agency of International Development aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter in preparation to deliver the supplies to locals affected by Hurricane Matthew at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 10, 2016. US Marine Corps photo.

U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Southern Command deployed in support of Joint Task Force Matthew, load boxes from United States Agency of International Development aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter in preparation to deliver the supplies to locals affected by Hurricane Matthew at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 10, 2016. US Marine Corps photo.

Mesa Verde, which along with Iwo Jima belongs to Expeditionary Strike Group 2, arrived on Oct. 9 with 700 sailors and Marines, three helicopters and one landing craft air cushion (LCAC) onboard. ESG 2 Commander Rear Adm. Roy Kitchener flew over the island that day to assess the hurricane damage and met with U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Peter Mulrean to discuss the relief efforts from government agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Iwo Jima departed Norfolk on Oct. 8 with more than 500 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Once the larger ship arrives, likely on Oct. 13, “resources currently embarked aboard Mesa Verde, including aircraft, landing craft, Marines and the Navy and Marine Corps command elements, will cross-deck to Iwo Jima and remain on station in Haiti to support continued operations,” according to a Navy statement.

Iwo Jima will also bring along about 225 pallets of supplies, including 800 cases of bottled water, with four helicopters and two LCACs to help access hard-hit areas on the beach and inland.

 The Honorable Peter F. Mulrean, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, tours the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) on Oct. 9 to better understand the capabilities of Joint Task Force Matthew. US Navy photo.

The Honorable Peter F. Mulrean, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, tours the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) on Oct. 9 to better understand the capabilities of Joint Task Force Matthew. US Navy photo.

“The same capabilities that make us a dominant military force also allow us the ability to provide critically-needed assistance and humanitarian aid,” Lt. Col. Christopher D. Hafer, commanding officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 24, said in a Navy statement.
“We are able to work alongside the various U.S. government agencies experienced in providing disaster relief to ensure relief supplies, equipment and manpower get to where they are most needed.”

The Navy had prepared aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) with 171 Marines and five MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors and hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) with 280 medical personnel in case they were called upon, but U.S. Southern Command has so far not tasked those two ships.

  • Curtis Conway

    If the Haitian Government cannot get their act together this time, and do more than just siphon funds from the flow of $Millions/$Billions and end up building a hand full of houses . . . and develop some real infrastructure, then we should just take the country over and protect it from itself. Corruption is the only thing the Haitian government understands.

    • PolicyWonk

      A “nation-building” exercise?

      True, Haiti is as corrupt as the day is long. But do we need another US possession, who’s problems make Puerto Rico’s look easy?

      And, our more recent efforts at “nation building” have proven less than successful…

      • Curtis Conway

        Well, if we are going to embark on nation building, it sure should be a little closer to home where we can experience beneficial effects and invest in that economy. We need a replacement for the Naval Air Station Roosevelt Roads. There is a lot of space for that. Cultivation of any number of crops are possible, some good sources for ethanol if your in that business. It is a country of opportunity where the government is a black hole. Infrastructure is basically non existent even today. Sewer, water, electrical power are for the most part unavailable to the public. When I was there we were cautioned about saying anything disparaging about the government. Might not make it back to the pier.

        • PolicyWonk

          Haiti (haven’t been there myself – but my sister has been for an extended period) is roughly 10M people crammed into ~10k square miles. A rendering of a satellite image shows the difference between Haiti and the Dominican Republic (brown/barren compared to green), from an agricultural/environmental perspective. The poverty is appalling…

          I would’ve preferred we take on something like that if we hadn’t stupidly burned money doing the same thing in Afghanistan – and of course – the Haitians would have to agree to become an American protectorate/possession.

          An interesting idea overall – but I don’t see it happening – not in today’s political environment – theirs or ours.

    • DaSaint

      While there’s some truth to your statement, it’s probably not going to happen. The US does not want to impose it’s will, particularly to neighboring Caribbean countries. Bad look. I know that pledges of aid in the millions and possibly billions have been made, but because of their history of corruption, most have not been transformed into actual aid dollars. Instead, donations of products and goods are made, then stolen, and resold. Same effect.
      Haiti doesn’t have a tourism economy, and therefore no real income, which perpetuates the misery. Compounded with the government corruption you speak accurately of, with the fact that their burgeoning tourism industry is coopted by Carnival and Royal Caribbean – buying islands/land from the government for next to nothing, and turning them into revenue producing annexes of the cruise industry so little trickles back to the people…
      So in a nutshell, I doubt they will get their act together.

      • Curtis Conway

        Perhaps we can take that 3D concrete house builder down there and just build neighborhoods. They will have a hard time hauling them off and reselling them.

  • Why hasn’t the USNI reported on the Coast Guard response, which is substantial, also?