Atlantic Ocean - The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) and the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), along with various embarked air and amphibious landing assets, arrived on station off of Key West, Florida, yesterday, to support Hurricane Irma relief efforts.
Under the command of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, Rear Adm. Samuel Paparo, the ships began their transit to the area September 8.
The ships departed with Amphibious Squadron 4, a component of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a detachment from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, as well as members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22 and Fleet Surgical Team 8.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and communities that were affected by this devastating event," said Capt. James R. Midkiff, Iwo Jima's commanding officer. "During times like these, it is important to have the right people with the right capabilities in the right place at the right time and we hit every single one of those marks. We have successfully and safely completed this mission before and we will do it this time as well."
The ships and embarked units joined the ongoing efforts of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), the amphibious assault ships USS Wasp (LHD 1) and USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51).
For the crew of Iwo Jima, especially those who called Key West home, the opportunity to assist was eagerly embraced.
"For me, it truly shows that we are making a difference," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class Cory Chevalier, of Erie, Pennsylvania, who was assigned to Naval Air Station Key West Fleet Readiness Center from 2006 to 2010. "There are still people living there I met while stationed there and to provide assistance to those I care about personally is something I will never forget."
The Navy's involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in conjunction with the Department of Defense.