Sunday, January 24, 2010

NAVSO/C4F Visits Big Horn Prior to Haiti Deployment

The Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) prepares for an underway replenishment to sustain the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) for an extended period of time off the coast of Haiti. Carter Hall is en route to Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response, a joint operation providing humanitarian aid in Haiti following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which devastated the island nation on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Monique K. Hilley/Released)

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO) and U.S. Fourth Fleet (C4F) visited the crew of USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) Jan. 24, prior to their deployment in support of Operation Unified Response.

During his visit, Rear Adm. Victor G. Guillory spoke with members of the wardroom.

"I'm glad to tell you that since the last time you were down there a few days ago things have cautiously improved," said Guillory. "We're going to help mitigate the suffering of well over one hundred thousand people. You represent the critical link to make it all possible. We don't have a sea base without you. On behalf of thousands of people who don't get the chance, I want to thank you and wish you the best with your mission."

Big Horn is a fleet replenishment oiler that pulled into Naval Station Mayport to refuel and on load food, water and other supplies in support of the Haiti disaster relief. The crew is made up of six U.S. Navy Sailors, and 73 civilian mariners under direction of Military Sealift Command.

"We have 79 crew members total," said Capt. Thomas J. Finger, master, USNS Big Horn. "Out of this group [of officers], everybody made the last deployment. So there is a lot of continuity, corporate history and professional skill within the crew."

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. In support of Operation Unified Response, C4F is tasked to coordinate the U.S. Navy's response to disaster relief in Haiti following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake Jan. 12. The focus of Operation Unified Response is to alleviate the suffering of survivors and support humanitarian relief efforts.