Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, Adm. Phil Davidson, has ordered the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), with elements from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, to get underway from their homeport in Mayport Oct. 7.
Both ships are directed to be in position to support the gulf coast region in the event assistance is needed following Tropical Storm Nate, which is currently projected to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall.
Once employed, our Navy and Marine Corps team has capabilities that will be uniquely effective in disaster relief efforts. To support these capabilities, the combined aircraft on the two ships are three U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Marine Heavy Lift Helicopters, six Navy MH-60S and four MH-60R Medium Lift Helicopters.
These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support and bring diverse skills including assessment and security.
Iwo Jima and New York steamed to the Florida Keys in early September to provide immediate assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irma. While on station, Sailors and Marines worked along the Lower Keys, from Marathon to Key West, clearing debris from roadway, distributing food, water, tarps and blankets, and repairing generators and other critical infrastructure, such as water-pumping stations. The ships returned to Mayport Sept. 19.
If called upon, the top priority of the federal government, while working to support civil authorities, will be to minimize suffering and protect the lives and safety of any affected.