Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nassau ARG, 24th MEU Bound for Haiti

NORFOLK (NNS) -- More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the USS Nassau (LHA 4) Amphibious Ready Group (NAS ARG) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) received orders Jan. 19 to deploy to Haiti to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions.

The NAS ARG departed Norfolk Jan. 18 for a regularly scheduled deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility, but the NAS ARG has been ordered to proceed to Haiti after completing its onload of Marines from the 24th MEU in Morehead City, N.C. The decision to divert the NAS ARG/24th MEU from its planned deployment was made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen based on continuing urgent needs in the Haiti relief effort.

The NAS ARG is composed of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship Nassau, the amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Fort Story, Va.

The NAS ARG is commanded by Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8, which includes the Nassau, Ashland, Mesa Verde and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28.

The 24th MEU includes Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 24; and its command element.

The NAS ARG/24th MEU provides combatant commanders with a versatile sea-based force that can be tailored to a variety of missions, including quick reaction crisis response options in maritime, littoral and inland environments in support of U.S. policy. The ARG/24th MEU will provide an array of helicopter and amphibious landing craft assets, significantly increasing the ability to quickly provide relief supplies where they are most needed. In addition, the Marines assigned to the 24th MEU will be able to provide an additional force capable of providing a secure environment for the ongoing relief efforts ashore in Haiti.

An amphibious ready group traditionally deploys with robust medical capabilities, and the NAS ARG/24 MEU is no exception. The medical personnel and facilities aboard the three ARG ships will join the medical efforts already in place in the region to provide vital medical treatment to those in need in Haiti.

The addition of the NAS ARG/24 MEU brings the total number of U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command ships participating in the relief effort to 20, along with their associated Marine Corps units. These forces include:

USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)
USS Bataan (LHD 5)
USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44)
USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43)
USS Carter Hall (LSD 50)
USS Normandy (CG 60)
USS Underwood (FFG 36)
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU 22)
USS Nassau (LHD 4)
USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19)
USS Ashland (LSD 48)
24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU 24)
USS Higgins (DDG 76)
USS Bunker Hill (CG 52)
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20)
USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51)
USNS Henson (T-AGS-63)
USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2)
USNS Sumner (T-AGS-61)
USNS 1st LT Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011)
USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams (T-AK 3009)
USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198)

Navy units supporting this effort are under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO). As the Navy component command of U.S. Southern Command, NAVSO's mission is to direct U.S. Naval forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. Routine operations include counter-illicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training.