NORFOLK, Va. – The USS Iwo Jima and over 500 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployed from Norfolk Saturday to help with disaster relief in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.
The amphibious assault ship will relieve USS Mesa Verde, which is expected to arrive in Haiti early Sunday morning.
Resources aboard the Mesa Verde, including aircraft, landing craft, Marines and the Navy and Marine Corps command elements, will cross-deck to Iwo Jima and remain in Haiti to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
In just two days, the Iwo Jima and MEU loaded nearly 225 pallets of supplies, including 800 cases of bottled water, to help people in the aftermath of Matthew.
USS Iwo Jima Commanding Officer, Capt. James Midkiff, praised the Sailors’ and Marines’ ability to load the ship so quickly and their ability to be ready to help those in need, even while their own families braved the storm at the ship’s homeport in Mayport, Florida.
“Events like this exemplify the talent and strengths of our military services and how flexible and responsive we can be in a time of crisis” said Midkiff. “Everything we have done since departing our homeport is designed to get ready and provide support to those in need, and I think we have done exactly that. We are prepared and honored to have the opportunity to help out our friends and neighbors in the western hemisphere.”
Matthew made landfall in Haiti as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday. The storm has killed at least 300 people in three Caribbean countries. The majority died in Haiti, said Civil Protection Service spokesman Joseph Edgard Celestin.