SOUTHCOM Diverts Navy Ship to Support Hurricane Relief

Thursday, September 06, 2007
U.S. Southern Command diverted the USS WASP (LHD 1) from an international maritime exercise in Panama to the coast of Nicaragua today to assist with disaster relief efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Felix. The redeployment of the U.S. Navy amphibious ship was directed in response to a request for international assistance from the government of Nicaragua and in close coordination with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

USS WASP, homeported in Norfolk, Va., was operating in the sea lanes approaching the Panama Canal as a command and control vessel for a fleet of more than 30 multinational ships participating in exercise Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX. It is expected to arrive off the coast of Nicaragua Thursday.

As part of its mission, U.S. Southern Command routinely conducts humanitarian assistance operations with partner nations in its area of focus and assists USAID and regional countries with disaster relief efforts in times of crisis. U.S. Southern Command has previously provided support to Nicaraguan emergency response officials in times of crisis, including the delivery of relief supplies and equipment following the passing Hurricane Beta in November 2005, and the deployment of medical assistance teams to aid burn and alcohol- poisoning victims in 2006. U.S. Southern Command military planners continue to work with interagency partners and their counterparts in countries affected by Felix to assess recovery needs in the affected areas and identify additional U.S. military units that may be able to provide assistance.

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