Lance Cpl. Jeffrey A. Rapp and Lance Cpl. Nathan G. Seither, assigned to Military Sealift Command (MSC) roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Stockham (T-AK 3017), load rice on a HH-60H helicopter to deliver to outlying islands in support of humanitarian efforts. Stockham is in the Solomon Islands to facilitate the U.S. Department of State and non-governmental organizations humanitarian assistance operation. On April 2, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami struck the Solomon Islands causing casualties and significant damage. U.S. Navy photo By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Meyers
By Theresa Merto Cepeda, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas
Military Sealift Command ship, USNS Stockham (T-AK 3017) stopped in Guam on April 26 for maintenance, refueling and to top-off provisions, as well as some rest and relaxation, after aiding earthquake and tsunami victims in the Solomon Islands.
â€œPrimarily, the Stockham is a maritime pre-position force ship that carries U.S. Marine Corps pre-position gear,â€ said Cmdr. Chip Demary, Stockham first officer in charge. â€œIn addition, Stockhamâ€™s been activated as an afloat forwarding staging base where we put various assets from the Navy on board and Marine Corps on board.â€
The ship assisted the Solomon Islands with humanitarian assistance operations following an 8.1 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit April 2, causing widespread destruction and three dozen deaths. During their recent mission to the Solomon Islands, the Stockham transported 28,000 pounds of food and supplies throughout the region, among other duties.
â€œWe were assigned down in the Solomon Islands to conduct some tsunami relief support and we primarily did that with our helicopters carrying supplies and personnel throughout the affected region,â€ Demary said. â€œAnd also our medical personnel provided some assistance to the hospitals in the region and our Scan Eagle provided some aerial imagery of the damage.â€
There are about 100 military personnel on board including Navy and Marine Corps members and 38 civilians. The Stockham is about 900 feet long, and can carry an assortment of equipment ranging from Humvees to helicopters.
While in Guam, the Stockham opened its doors for a two-hour tour to the Navy League of Guam civic organization showing them state-of-the-art equipment used in its recent mission.
â€œItâ€™s great to host people like the Navy League on board to let them know what these big things are that come in and out of the harbor, what actually goes on on board,â€ said Demary. â€œIn this shipâ€™s case thereâ€™s a very good capability, so weâ€™re always happy to show off the capability of our Sailors, Marines and civilian mariners.â€
The Navy League is a national organization with 65,000 members, whose objective is to support military service members, both enlisted and officer personnel. In Guam, the group takes an active role in participating and planning events for Navy personnel including the Silver Plate Dinner, Navy Ball and the Sailor of Quarter award ceremony.
â€œOne of the neat things we get to do is take ship tours like we did today, and itâ€™s just a wonderful experience,â€ said Larry Butterfield, Navy League of Guam president. â€œIt gives us an opportunity to say â€˜thank youâ€™ to the Sailors and merchant mariners who do so much for us. We also find it very interesting.â€
Navy League members
say they were grateful for the opportunity to tour the ship and its equipment, and look forward to future events with the Navy.
â€œThe ship weâ€™re on today has a lot of neat toys particularly the unmanned aircraft. And weâ€™ve just had a great time,â€ Butterfield said. â€œWe thank the Navy for giving us this opportunity.â€