Navy prepares to help with recovery efforts after Florence hits the East Coast

Photo provided by the USS Abraham Lincoln.

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — Navy assets are in the process of responding to help those affected by Hurricane Florence, which is now a tropical storm as it moves through the Carolinas.

MH-60 Seahawk helicopters are one of the biggest helps the Navy could provide if needed, with the aircraft departing from the USS Abraham Lincoln on Saturday.

The return plan for Norfolk-based aircraft gave priority to rotary wing assets to allow for additional land-based rotary wing Defense Support to Civilian Authorities (DSCA) support, if requested.

The Navy also prepared by having the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) – along with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) – ready to respond to those impacted in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic by Florence. These assets are all part of the  Command Task Force (CTF) 89, whose commander, Rear Adm. Brad Skillman, is ready for the call if his task force is needed.

“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. Skillman. “This is a team effort — we’re prepared to move into position when requested to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining support to those in affected areas.”

States can request disaster response support, which is planned and put into action by FEMA and the U.S. Northern Command.

Sortied Navy assets in the Atlantic Ocean were told to return to the Hampton Roads area starting Saturday, Sept. 15, and will continue to return to homeport over the next several days. The Navy had sent ships out into the Atlantic ahead of Florence making its way to the East Coast.