Naval and Marine Corps assets are responding to natural disasters in Hawaii and Papua New Guinea, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 sent two MH-60 R Sea Hawk helicopters to assist the Coast Guard with search and rescue operations in Maui, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters Thursday. Coast Guard teams have rescued 14 people who fled into the ocean to escape smoke and the fire.
The Army also sent two UH-60 Blackhawks and one CH-47 Chinook from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Coast Guard cutters USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC-1126) and USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756) are also in the area to assist with rescue efforts, Ryder said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Maui at this time, and the Department will continue to work closely with the state of Hawaii and officials there as we work together to protect lives and battle these terrible wildfires,” Ryder said.
The Navy is also sending the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked aboard the America Amphibious Ready Group, to deliver aid to Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea to help after a volcano erupted, Ryder said.
The Marines are sending MV-22 Ospreys tilt rotors and CH-53E Super Stallions helicopters to provide air aid. The Navy will also send MH-60 Sea Hawks to assist. There are already 200 Marines in Papua New Guinea on standby to assist.
“The flexibility and rapid response capability of the Marine Expeditionary Unit team will allow for the delivery of immediate and much-needed emergency assistance during this crisis,” Ryder said.