November 9, 2018 – Ships assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron Three (MPSRON 3) are providing continous support in recovery efforts at Saipan and Tinian islands, after Super Typhoon Yutu made landfall and left destruction in those areas, which are part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
“My squadron and I are honored to contribute to joint Task Force-West,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Eric Lindfors, commodore, MPSRON 3 and Task Force-West (TF-W) Forward deputy commander. “The level of devastation from Super Typhoon Yutu is hard to describe, even when you are here on the ground looking at it. The challenges we face logistically being located remotely in the Pacific further complicates the recovery effort.”
Hundreds of homes were severely damaged, and many residents were left without shelter, food or access to clean water after Super Typhoon Yutu made landfall, Oct. 24. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Yutu was the second-strongest system to hit U.S. soil in recorded history.
Task Force-West was stood up by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), Oct. 25, to help with typhoon recovery efforts throughout the CNMI. Ships from MPSRON 3 continues to provide support since Oct. 29.
The USNS VADM K.R. Wheeler (T-AG 5001) was the first ship on the scene, spearheading pier-side operations. With fast transport ship USNS Fast Tempo, the crew was able to quickly perform transfers of vital supplies and personnel from Guam and other squadron ships at sea to shore.
In conjunction with the Wheeler, the crews of the USNS John Glenn (T-ESD 2), USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317), USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312), USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304) and MV Captain David I. Lyon (T-AK 5362) worked diligently at anchor. In total, 222,826 gallons of water and 86,160 pounds of ice were sent ashore due to their efforts.
Donations of tents, tarps, bottled water and camp stoves were readily made to families in need. Beyond supplies and logistics, mariners went ashore to assist with debris cleanup, and washed 110 loads of laundry for emergency and medical service personnel.
As recovery efforts move forward, leadership has focused on the task force’s slogan, “Unity – Inafa’maolek – Tipyeew.” This mantra symbolizes, in the three official languages of the CNMI, everyone coming together to support each other.
“The resiliency of the CNMI people amazes me every day,” said Lindfors. “As they confront the challenges of rebuilding, the squadron and I look forward to continuing our relations and keeping strong ties with the people of Saipan and Tinian. Unity – Inafa’maolek – Tipyeew.”
TF-W continues to provide support to CNMI’s civil and local officials as part of FEMA-supported recovery efforts. TF-W is divided into Task Group Saipan and Task Group Tinian, and comprises more than 800 active duty, Reserve and Guard service members from more than 20 different units across all branches of services within USINDOPACOM.