Norfolk-based ships ready to respond to Florence relief

The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24), both based out of Norfolk, embarked with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and are ready to support Hurricane Florence relief efforts off the mid-Atlantic coast.

These forces, led by Expeditionary Strike Group 2 and including Amphibious Squadron 6, comprise Command Task Force (CTF) 89, which is capable of providing medium and heavy lift air support, search and rescue, maritime civil affairs, maritime security and expeditionary logistics support.

“The Navy and Marine Corps team are here and ready to support the lead federal agency with the diverse capabilities we have with our amphibious force,” said CTF-89 Commander Rear Adm. Brad Skillman. “This is a team effort – we’re prepared to move into position when requested to provide life-saving and life-sustaining support to those in affected areas.”

When states request disaster response support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Northern Command is responsible for providing unique military capabilities, also known as Defense Support of Civil Authority. Under the direction of U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command, CTF-89 is part of the Department of Defense-wide relief effort synchronized by USNORTHCOM.

The 22nd MEU brings along nearly 800 Marines, six MV-22 Ospreys, three CH-53 Super Stallion and three UH-1Y Super Huey helicopters, as well as a host of ground vehicles, generators and other expeditionary equipment.

Kearsarge and Arlington bring Navy assets that include four MH-53 Sea Dragons, six MH-60 Sea Hawks, and three ship-to-shore landing craft utilities.

The ships are also embarked with Disaster Recovery Teams (DRTs) from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202, which are specifically manned and equipped to provide damage assessments and conduct route and debris clearance.

CTF-89 departed Naval Station Norfolk Sept. 10, when U.S. Fleet Forces Command/U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command ordered Sortie Condition Alpha.

ESG-2 and Kearsarge provided Defense Support of Civil Authorities in 2017 for the relief efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.