USS George Washington Navy Ship Departs Philippines

After the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington took the lead for international relief operations according to military officials.

The aircraft carrier George Washington left the Philippines on Friday as the amphibious dock landing ships, USS Ashland and USS Germantown, took over extending aid to new areas surrounding the Philippines.

Still remaining in the Philippine Sea is the San Diego-based cruiser Cowpens along with its embarked helicopter crews. As stated by Marine Captain Rebecca Melesky, spokeswoman for Joint Task Force 505, Cowpens has been flying missions into Tacloban while a joint task force has been providing relief to typhoon victims in Visayas.

Currently, the U.S. government has a little more than 1,200 people in the Philippines. These troops are mainly from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit based in Okinawa, Japan.

Along with aircraft, the U.S. military has been using amphibious ships like small boats and hovercraft to transport trucks and heavy equipment to shore in order to clear roads and debris in addition to providing relief to areas that are inaccessible by aircraft.

The Philippine government has 19 active hospitals on the ground and did claim that air and medical support was not necessary from the George Washington carrier strike group.

U.S. Marine Lieutenant General John Wissler, the task force commander, said in a statement, “In addition to the enhanced capabilities of the Ashland and Germantown, the Japanese Navy will be surveying the eastern coast of Samar and identifying additional impacted areas for relief support.”

Even if the air and medical support of the George Washington carrier strike group is not deemed necessary, the Philippine government has been appreciative of the U.S. government’s assistance. Lieutenant General Alan R. Luga is vice chief of staff of the Philippine armed forces. Lt. Gen. Luga shared his gratitude: “We are very thankful to the United States armed forces for sending one of their aircraft carriers to the Philippines and immediately supporting our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations following the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda.”

The United States military will continue to be present in supporting and helping the Philippines heal from the devastating typhoon. Until deemed unnecessary, U.S. troops will extend aid to the Philippines.

Photo Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery