The Navy’s Hurricane Irma relief effort is ramping up as more ships position off the coast of Florida and teams arrive on land to deliver supplies and assess damage, the service said on Wednesday.
Tuesday evening amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD-21) and guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG-56) arrived on station off of Key West to support relief efforts.
The ships arrived with Amphibious Squadron 4, a component of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a detachment from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, as well as members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22 and Fleet Surgical Team 8, according to a Navy statement.
The ships and embarked units joined the ongoing relief efforts of aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), which has already been sending supplies onto land by helicopter.
Meanwhile, in the Caribbean near Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the USS Wasp (LHD-1), USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), Military Sealift Command’s dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12), the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and Federal Emergency Management Agency staff continue providing humanitarian aid to the islands.
Also Wednesday, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast announced a 17-person Contingency Engineering Response Team was expected to land at Naval Air Station Key West to evaluate base damage. No injuries were reported when Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday morning about 18 miles from the base, but the Navy is still assessing what repairs are needed for the air station to resume normal operations.
Naval Station Key West, according to a Navy statement, was the hardest hit of all Navy installations in Florida. Team members are specialists trained to inspect roofing, physical structures, and electrical systems. Two weeks ago, the command stated the team deployed to inspect Navy facilities in Kingsville and Corpus Christi, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard continues inspecting ports along the Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coast for damage, signaling to boaters some areas are now safe for traffic. The concern, according to a Coast Guard statement, is debris washed into ports and waterways posing underwater hazards to passing marine traffic.
Two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters were returned to the Coast Guard Air Station Miami in Opa Locka, Fla. following the storm. The Coast Guard had temporarily located the helicopters in Mobile, Ala., to avoid the storm.
After battling 15-foot seas between Hurricanes Irma and Jose, Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton arrived in Jacksonville Tuesday to assess damage in the area, according to a Coast Guard statement. A 35-foot Long Range Interceptor small assessed damage on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.