The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Military Sealift Command:
(WASHINGOTON) — Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Lewis and Clark and its 130 embarked civil service mariners and nine military department members are key contributors to the disaster response/humanitarian assistance being provided to flood-ravaged Pakistan.
The ship is providing underway replenishment to ships of the USS Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group in the Arabian Sea as they support humanitarian relief efforts in the wake of epic monsoons.
Lewis and Clark’s resupply mission helps keep ships of the ready group supplied with food, fuel and other supplies – enabling them to remain at sea, on station and able to provide help to a country where thousands are reported dead, and millions are reported displaced or homeless.
Prior to the news of Pakistan’s devastation, Lewis and Clark was replenishing U.S. and coalition navy ships conducting counter-piracy operations in the Red Sea. Immediately after reports of the Pakistani crisis surfaced, Lewis and Clark was diverted to the Gulf of Oman to join the humanitarian assistance team.
In response to the disaster, USS Peleliu was tasked initially to provide heavy-lift capability with its embarked helicopters to the Pakistani government. Lewis and Clark arrived on station in the Arabian Sea Aug. 11 and assumed a pivotal role as the resupply bridge for U.S. ships providing disaster relief. One of Lewis and Clark’s first missions was to offload humanitarian and disaster relief kits to Peleliu, who in turn delivered them to Pakistan.
Lewis and Clark carried a standard cargo allotment of humanitarian and relief kits, designed to support 2,500 disaster survivors. Kits included five-gallon water containers, tarps, blankets, insect repellent, surgical masks, water purification tablets and basic personal hygiene items for victims of the disaster.
Helicopters from Peleliu and members of the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit began delivering humanitarian aid supplies to the government of Pakistan Sept. 6.
A sustained replenishment cycle was necessary to allow Peleliu and embarked Navy and Marine Corps helicopters to continue their support to the Pakistan government and military disaster relief efforts. Lewis and Clark began transiting to and from port in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, loading the ship with supplies and then returning to sea to replenish Peleliu while it remained off the coast of Pakistan. Lewis and Clark transited to and from port in seven- to 10-day cycles delivering food, fuel and cargo to Peleliu – allowing the ship to remain on station to provide support to the overall relief efforts.
Lewis and Clark’s two embarked Aerospatiale SA-330J Puma helicopters have delivered more than 800 pallets of routine supplies and humanitarian and disaster relief supplies, in addition to transporting more than 50 personnel transiting to assist in relief operations.
“I feel like we make a difference,” said Able Seaman Paul Chaffin, a civil service mariner aboard Lewis and Clark. “I think every time we supply a Navy ship, we are supporting those who directly support those affected by the crisis.”
MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.