WASHINGTON, D.C. (sentinel.ht) – The U.S. Navy has confirmed that it will be sending to Haiti aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) Tuesday and the amphibious warship USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) to Haiti on Wednesday followed by the hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), later this week, officials confirmed.
As of 2:30 p.m. no official tasking had been given but the Navy is anticipating a need for the ships to support humanitarian and disaster relief operations following the landfall of the Category 4 storm.
Matthew is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history and made landfall in southwest Haiti at 7 a.m. Tuesday. It is expected to affect much of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and could possible make landfall in eastern Cuba.
Ahead of landfall, 700 U.S. spouses and children were evacuated from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba via Air Force transport planes, while the 4,800 troops assigned to the base — as well as 61 detainees held at the military detention facility at the base– stayed, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters on Monday.
During U.S. military response to the 2010 quake – Operation Unified Response – the Navy sent 17 ships, 10,000 sailors and almost 50 helicopters to assist in the effort following the quake. Guantanamo Bay was a key logistics hub for Unified Response and its airfield provided a lily pad for airlifted supplies into the capital of Port au Prince.
While the Navy is considering what it could send, no plans are official. Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson told USNI News on Monday the Defense Department has not received any formal request for assistance and the department was continuing to monitor the situation.