U.S. Southern Command directed USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) to steam toward Haiti today in preparation for the forecasted arrival of tropical storm Tomas, which could become a Category 1 hurricane on the night of Wednesday to Thursday.
Large Wasp-class ships, such as Iwo Jima (LHD 7), resemble small aircraft carriers with the ability to conduct air and naval operations. 8 CH-46 Sea Knight, medium-lift, dual-rotor helicopters, 2 MH-60 Knight Hawk helicopters and 2 amphibious landing craft units (LCU’s) are on Iwo Jima to support relief and quickly move staffs and cargo making it an ideal platform to support logistics during humanitarian disasters.
1,600 military and civilian medical, engineering, aviation, logistical and other support personnel are embarked aboard Iwo Jima, including U.S. Navy engineers, a contingent of 500 Marines with logistical-support expertise, volunteers from the U.S. Public Health Service and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as medical, dental and engineering professionals from Europe, North America and South America.
Because of the Caribbean region’s history of severe-weather events during the peak months of the hurricane season, the ship has remained in the area throughout, since its last mission in in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, from July 24 through Aug. 3, ready to intervene if necessary. the ship capable of speeds in excess of 20 knots , it is expected in the coming days in Haiti.