Amphibious ships replace carrier in PI
Another 900 Okinawa-based Marines have joined the disaster relief efforts in the Philippines as two amphibious ships move on station.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines and Joint Task Force 505 welcomed the amphibious ships USS Ashland (LSD-48) and USS Germantown (LSD-42), carrying Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit from Okinawa. Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Alan R. Luga says “Having amphibious ships here, along with the 31st MEU, brings more logistical capability and capacity to augment our on-going relief operations in Visayas.”
The USS Ashland and the Germantown, both dock landing ships, replaced the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which had been operating in the area since Nov. 14th.
“We are very thankful to the United States Armed Forces for sending one of their aircraft carriers to the Philippines and immediately supporting our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations following the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda,” Luga said.
Luga added that the USS George Washington played an important role in air transport when most airports are non-operational in critical areas in Eastern Visayas and the amphibious ships have a more robust ship-to-shore movement ability. The Ashland and the Germantown carry landing craft, both air cushioned and utility, for moving large amounts of cargo and equipment ashore, and the 31st MEU brings heavy equipment which could be used to move debris.
“In addition to the enhanced capabilities of the Ashland and Germantown the Japanese Navy will be surveying the Eastern Coast of Samar and identifying additional impacted areas for relief support,” said U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Wissler, JTF-505 commander. Wissler noted “These are more suitable assets, and combined with the naval vessels from Japan, Australia, and other nations, we continue to be postured to help wherever the Philippine Government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines needs us and we will remain here until our unique capabilities are no longer necessary.”