Caribbean Sea - The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) conducted a deck swap of personnel, supplies and three CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft with amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) off the northern coast of Haiti Thursday.
The two ships conducted the exchange as Iwo Jima relieves Mesa Verde as the lead Navy support of Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) missions in the wake of Hurricane Matthew as part of Joint Task Force Matthew.
Iwo Jima is taking on the additional personnel, equipment and materiel as they begin to support HA/DR missions in Haiti.
"Mesa Verde has done a great job getting things started down here, and we are excited to build on the solid foundation that they have built here in Haiti," said Capt. James Midkiff, commanding officer of Iwo Jima. "The integration of the Navy and Marine Corps teams has been outstanding and each Sailor and Marine onboard is ready to assist any way they can."
In addition to the swap with Mesa Verde, Iwo Jima also conducted a replenishment-at-sea with fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE-6) Oct. 12, taking on more than 450,000 gallons of F-76 fuel and 30,000 gallons of JP-5 aviation fuel. The additional fuel provides Iwo Jima with the ability to conduct a greater amount of HA/DR operations while in Haiti.
"These ships are great platforms to help USAID and the other agencies coordinating relief efforts," said Rear Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Two. "The same capabilities that make amphibious ships so effective in combat also make them extraordinarily effective in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts like the one we're conducting now in Haiti."
The airlift and transport capabilities of amphibious ships make them uniquely suited to support the delivery and distribution of much-needed relief supplies, as well as transport humanitarian assistance personnel in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.
During relief operations, embarked landing craft are used to transport equipment and aid to populated areas inaccessible by land.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. government agency for foreign disaster assistance and is working with Joint Task Force Matthew to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the people of Haiti following Hurricane Matthew at the request of the Haitian government.