PACIFIC OCEAN —
The USS Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group, with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, are providing air assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local officials in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam following Typhoon Mangkhut, Sept 12.
“The MEU assembled teams on board in order to provide water support on the island and generators for the local population if necessary” said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Cameron Field, the combat cargo team embarkation officer. “We also had company-sized teams of Marines ready to assist with debris clean-up at a moment’s notice.”
As support efforts continue, Task Force 76 is engaged in support activities on Rota, Tinian and Saipan islands in the Northern Mariana Islands. Two vessels with CTF 76 — the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland — are supporting FEMA requests for assistance through the tasking of personnel and distribution of supplies throughout the islands.
Following Navy and Marine Corps aerial surveys to ensure the safe movement of equipment, multiple types of aircraft are on standby to assist in any future operations, including an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262.
‘We Want to be Prepared for Anything’
“We want to be prepared for anything,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ryan McAllister, assistant officer in charge of Tactical Control Squadron 12, Detachment 1. “Making sure that our planes are ready to go at any moment for support is our top priority.”
To prepare for operations, the ships must position themselves to ensure launch and recovery of aircraft is effective and timely. This is accomplished through coordination and communication between watch officers on all ships, who must maintain precise time, distance and speed to ensure aircraft have a place to land or refuel. According to McAllister, having a ship in the right place is the most critical aspect of conducting air movement between the islands.
“It was fortunate Wasp was in the right location for quick aid,” McAllister said. “Our ability to be closer to shore allowed us to be forward-pressing and flexible in accomplishing our mission.”
The Wasp group continues to work with officials with efforts focused on augmenting and supporting FEMA in conjunction with Guam and local officials.