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
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.