After more than two months at sea, providing disaster relief in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, amphibious warship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) returned to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. on Monday morning.
Kearsarge and amphibious warship USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Navy Seabees – the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group – initially left Norfolk on Aug. 31, to be in position to provide relief support to the Gulf Coast of Texas following the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, according to a Navy statement. According to news reports, the ARG has now completely moved on from operations near Puerto Rico.
Ultimately, the services of Kearsarge and Oak Hill, and other Navy ships were needed elsewhere, as other storms battered the south Florida and Caribbean islands such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The ARG was joined by USS Wasp (LHD-1), which had been scheduled to sail to the Pacific this fall. Also, in October, Marines from the 24th MEU relieved the 26th MEU.
Both Oak Hill and Wasp departed the region two weeks ago, according to a Navy statement. Oak Hill returned to Norfolk, while Wasp stopped in Mayport, Fla., for some repairs before recalculating the trip to its new homeport in Japan, according to a statement posted on the Wasp Facebook page.
While in Puerto Rico, sailors and Marines from the Kearsarge ARG cleared main roads to ease the flow of emergency personnel, food, supplies, and fuel. By setting up Roosevelt Roads as a staging base, Marines and sailors helped civilian relief workers arrange for around-the-clock air traffic delivering supplies, evacuating injured, and allowing increased commercial air traffic. Sailors and Marines from Kearsarge also evaluated and restored generators in Puerto Rico, which suffered a near total loss of electricity following Hurricane Maria, according to a Navy statement.
The following are some of the significant events to occur during Kearsarge’s hurricane relief work:
- More than 3 million pounds of supplies were delivered to Puerto Rico by the Kearsarge ARG.
- 2,608 weather observations made since Aug. 31 by Kearsarge’s weather team. These were used for flight and landing operations conducted by Kearsarge, along with other ship responding to provide hurricane relief, and by the citizens of Puerto Rico. The team created 2,555 weather products, such as daily forecasts used by the ships in the ARG, tidal predictions, environmental information, and five-day forecasts.
- President Donald Trump visits Kearsarge during his visit to Puerto Rico, evaluating the U.S. government response to providing disaster assistance in the wake of Hurricane
- Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, commander of United States Northern Command, visited Kearsarge on Oct. 17 while she toured Puerto Rico, evaluating the military’s response to provide disaster assistance following Hurricane Maria.