Navy Dads

Carl Vinson, 6 other ships headed to Haiti

By Lance M. Bacon - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jan 13, 2010 19:08:31 EST

Seven ships — including the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson — are or have orders to get underway in anticipation of humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti, according to Navy officials.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday afternoon conveyed to U.S. Southern command that providing humanitarian relief “is a very high priority for the president and for this department,” said Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary. The secretary said the Defense Department would do its best to provide “anything and everything they need, be it personnel, equipment, lift, whatever it may be,” as quickly as possible.

The defense secretary has not signed any deployment orders as of Wednesday evening, Morrell said, adding that the Joint Staff was working on manning requests.

“The secretary wants this building moving with a sense of urgency – which it is – and he wants to make it clear to the commander that we will do our absolute best to get whatever he thinks he needs, as quickly as possible,” Morrell said.

Asked if Gates was satisfied with the speed of the response so far, Morrell said, “Absolutely. He is very comfortable with the fact that everybody is taking this extremely seriously and is doing their absolutely best to respond as quickly as possible. …

“To describe us as still in the assessing stage … would not be accurate. We are in the action phase. We are moving assets into or towards Haiti as we speak to quickly alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people.”

Carl Vinson was rerouted Wednesday and is expected to arrive off the coast of Haiti Thursday. The amphibious assault ship Bataan and dock landing ships Fort McHenry and Carter Hall have been ordered out of Norfolk, Va., to conduct humanitarian relief exercises in preparation for Haiti relief efforts, said Ted Brown, spokesman for Fleet Forces Command.

Also on standby to assist are the Norfolk-based cruiser Normandy; the Mayport, Fla.-based frigate Underwood; and the Baltimore-based hospital ship Comfort. The hospital ship can carry 650 medical professionals and their equipment to the region, which has reported the destruction of numerous hospitals.

In addition, Little Creek, Va.-based Navy Expeditionary Combat Command is preparing an untold number of troops for service in Haiti, if called upon. NECC provides tailored packages that include explosive ordnance disposal, maritime expeditionary security, riverine, expeditionary diving and salvage, naval construction and expeditionary logistics.

The Navy also has a host of P-3 Orion aircraft and helicopters committed to relief efforts.

U.S. Southern Command, based in Miami, has deployed a team of 30 people to Haiti to work with U.S. Embassy personnel as well as Haitian, U.N. and international officials to assess the situation and facilitate follow-on U.S. military support, said Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, SouthCom commander. The team includes military engineers, operational planners, a command and control group and communication specialists. They will arrive in Haiti on Wednesday on two C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Elements of the Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing were deploying to the international airport at Port-au-Prince to provide air traffic control capability and airfield operations. They are expected to arrive in Haiti on Wednesday afternoon. The United Nations on Wednesday said the capital’s main airport was “fully operational,” though there is no power in the control tower.

Early Wednesday morning, Coast Guard helicopters evacuated four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff to hospital at Naval Station Guantanamo, Cuba, for further treatment.

A U.S. P-3 from the Forward Operating Location at Comalapa, El Salvador, also conducted aerial reconnaissance of the affected area.

SouthCom has supported 14 major relief missions in the region since 2005, including assistance to Haiti in September 2008. During that mission, U.S. forces from the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and other units airlifted 3.3 million pounds of aid to communities that were devastated by a succession of major storms.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Haitian people and all those affected by this devastating earthquake,” said Army Col. James Marshall, SouthCom spokesman.

Last summer, the hospital ship Comfort conducted a four-month deployment as part of “Continuing Promise 2009.” The ship visited Antigua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Panama. Each visit lasted about 10 to 12 days.

Vinson and its crew of about 3,200 sailors left Norfolk on Tuesday en route to their new homeport in San Diego. The carrier, which is commanded by Capt. Bruce Lindsey, was joined by Carrier Air Wing 17 and the cruisers Lake Champlain and Bunker Hill. As flagship of the newly established Carrier Strike Group 1, Vinson was to provide maritime security as it circumnavigates South America and provide humanitarian assistance or disaster relief, if required.

That call came only hours later when a magnitude-7.0 quake devastated the impoverished nation Tuesday afternoon, leveling thousands of structures and leaving an untold number trapped in the ruins. Death tolls are expected in the thousands, and International Red Cross spokesman Paul Conneally said 3 million people, one-third of Haiti’s population, may need emergency aid.

Bunker Hill and Lake Champlain have not been assigned to the relief mission, a Navy official said Wednesday.

The United Nations has 9,000 peacekeepers in Haiti, but most are searching for survivors in their headquarters, which collapsed on an unknown number of people. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was reported as saying in his radio address that “it would appear that everyone who was in the building, including my friend Hedi Annabi, the U.N. Secretary General’s special envoy, and everyone with him and around him, are dead.”

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We pray that our sailors and the ships they are on can provide aid and comfort for those affected by the earthquake
Amen,Paul.
We pray for ALL the sailors so they be strong in order to confront the Haitian disaster and I'm also very proud of my godson who's on one of the carriers that's over at Haiti or on it's way to Haiti.
HooYah....Go Carl Vinson.....

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I pray that our ships and sailors have a safe stay in haiti and are able to make a difference that will be everlasting to those affected by the quake.
The Navy Lands in Haiti:

they are doing lots of good even though you dont see it all in the news.my son is on the USS CARL VINSON and we have had two e-mails from and a phone call . they are very busy with the releif effort and are busy filling fresh water jugs.he said totell everyone that they are doing what they are trained for and all is well.they have a facebook page with lots of photos and updates its USS CARL VINSON CVN-70.check it out, makes you proud................
Carl Vinson Touches Hearts, Saves Lives at Haitian Clinic

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Candice Villarreal, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

CARREFOUR, Haiti (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 medical personnel provided emergency medical assistance Jan. 21 to hundreds of injured Haitian citizens at the Killick Haitian Coast Guard Clinic in Carrefour, Haiti.

Sixteen Carl Vinson Sailors have been working closely with members of the U.S. Army, Air Force and Coast Guard to treat almost 200 patients a day for orthopedic injuries, fractures, blunt trauma, wound infections and burns.

"The earthquake made many people sleep in the street without [their] families and people everywhere [were] very hurt," said Culdon J. Miguelsonn, a Carrefour resident and translator for the U.S. military at Killick. "But when we [saw] America come to help us, we slept with joyous hearts. People [were] running and saying 'America is here! America is here!' and 'God is good.'"

The clinic, swarmed with hundreds of injured earthquake patients daily whose injuries ranged in severity, became a triage center and operating room immediately after the military arrived. Helicopters performing medical evacuations (MEDEVACs) from Killick transported nearly 150 of the most severely injured patients to Carl Vinson, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), USS Bataan (LHD 5), Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Sacred Heart Hospital in northern Haiti.

"I think we are giving the people of Haiti a lot of hope in a time of desperation," said CVW-17 Flight Surgeon Lt. Kristina Rogish. "We are doing everything we can, around-the-clock, to show them the good will America has for all in need, and they trust us to take care of them."

Victims' friends and family members carried patients in on makeshift stretchers fashioned from doors, wheelbarrows, blankets and chairs for the Sailors to treat. Food and water were distributed to patients awaiting treatment, and chaplains prayed for and comforted Haitians of all ages.

"Seeing the patients smile and saying 'God bless you' touches us most," said Rogish. "They're so appreciative."

Carl Vinson and CVW-17 arrived in Haiti Jan. 15 to support Operation Unified Response by providing humanitarian aid and emergency assistance after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the island nation. Operation Unified Response is a joint military operation providing U.S. military capabilities in support of international relief operations in Haiti.

"The U.S. Navy's efforts in Haiti, and even Killick, have been profound," said Rogish. "We responded very quickly, redirected [from our original course], and arrived in record time. In the end, though, it's the joint effort between all branches of our military that have been crucial to every success we continue to see."

Operation Unified Response is part of a larger U.S. response to a request from the government of Haiti for urgent humanitarian aid. The U.S. military is working closely with the Deptartment of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the international community to provide life-sustaining services to the people of Haiti. All military efforts are in support of government of Haiti, USAID, and the U.N. Stabilization Mission.


For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit

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