USS ESSEX, off the coast of the Republic of the Philippines --
Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11 flew from the USS Essex (LHD 2) to storm-ravaged areas of the northern Philippines to assist its government with an initial damage survey and an assessment of local population needs, Oct 21.
The 31st MEU and PHIBRON-11 are joining with the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development to survey isolated municipalities caused by Super Typhoon Juan, which struck the Republic of the Philippines with 150 mph winds.
According to the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the storm has thus far left 19 dead and 24 injured, along with more than 11,000 people displaced and more than 330,000 people affected.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the Filipinos at this difficult time,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, commanding officer, 31st MEU. “"We are here to assist those in need however we can."
The U.S. Embassy in Manila said in an Oct. 19 news release that the U.S. Government has provided an initial $100,000 in immediate relief assistance to aid victims of Super Typhoon Juan.
“The money was given to the Philippine Red Cross and used for transportation, tarpaulins and other non-food items,” said Alan Dwyer, principal regional advisor for USAID office and regional disaster assistance.
The ships of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, the USS Essex (LHD 2), the USS Denver (LPD 9), and the USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), have been positioned close to Northern Luzon to be available for assistance as needed.
“The Philippines and the U.S. have a long history of professional relationships,” said Capt. Mark Weber, commander, Amphibious Squadron 11. “Working together allows us to respond to situations like these quickly and efficiently to reduce suffering.”
PHIBRON-11 and the 31st MEU provides a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations in the Asia-Pacific area. Always ready to respond, the 31st MEU is prepared to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief when directed. The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the nation’s force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.
For more information about the deployment of the 31st MEU, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Okinawa-Japan/31st-Marine-Expeditionary-Unit/115253045176016 or visit our webpage at: www.marines.mil/unit/31stmeu.