CARIBBEAN SEA - The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) arrived in U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations off the coast Haiti to begin humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, Aug. 21.
Arlington departed Naval Station Norfolk Aug. 17 to support U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) following a 7.2-magnitute earthquake that struck Haiti on Aug. 14, 2021.
"Our initial focus is to concentrate on saving lives while alleviating suffering for the people of Haiti," said Capt. Eric Kellum, commanding officer of Arlington. "Assisting those in need due to a natural disaster is something this team is trained and ready to do. Our presence here demonstrates our nation’s commitment to supporting our partners in this part of the world."
Arlington has approximately 600 Sailors and Marines which includes service members embarked from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment to provide lifesaving and humanitarian assistance support. The ship is augmented by two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters from the “Chargers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, a landing craft, utility (LCU) from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 2, in addition to staff from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40, and amphibious and aviation planners.
The mission forms part of an inter-agency framework lending aid to Haiti, including the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which was deployed Aug. 14 immediately after the earthquake occurred. U.S. Southern Command Joint Task Force-Haiti, commanded by Navy Rear Adm. Keith Davids was stood up to coordinate military support, with Arlington deployed as a maritime component.
Arlington joins other U.S. Southern Command components and U.S. Coast Guard ships already on station, in addition to allies and partners from the Netherlands, France, and United Kingdom.
USS Arlington, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is part of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, whose mission is to provide timely, operational, amphibious expertise in support of national tasking to sustain maritime security and defense of the nation.