Three U.S. Navy ships–the USS Carter Hall, the USS Mesa Verde, and the USS Wasp, are currently floating in the waters of New York/New Jersey (or headed this way soon), awaiting an official request for aid from Governor Cuomo and/or Governor Christie to come in and help with hurricane relief efforts. And one of the three just got received some extra assistance, as Marines and Sailors from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit recently arrived on the USS Wasp by helicopter from bases in North Carolina.
The sailors and marines of the 26th MEU are specially trained in “debris removal, water purification and transport, electrical and generator work, medical support and heavy machinery operation,” according to the Department of Defense, and will be deployed from the Wasp in helicopters to give aid to the NY/NJ area.
The Wasp functions as a full-fledged center of command, so that our densely populated area won’t have to worry about making room for the unit. “Our [helicopters provide the] ability to conduct these operations from the sea. We’re able to do something other services cannot do. We don’t have to have a large footprint on the shore,” said commanding officer Matthew G. St. Clair, adding, “The city of New York — the states — don’t have to find space to billet Marines. They don’t have to find space for our aircraft. Because we can recover back to the USS Wasp, and we can do that every day.”
“We can assist with the ability to move supplies with our aviation assets. We can do a site survey to determine how bad an area is. We can help move and distribute supplies; water, food, blankets — pieces of equipment,” he continued. “If it can fit in a CH-53E, we can move it. We can get supplies and people to areas that are affected, where the only means to get there may be aviation assets.”