The USS Bataan has begun ship to shore operations with assets from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit with their CH-53 and UH-1N helicopters. They have established a humanitarian relief distribution center near Port-au-Prince. The DoD New Media Directorate conducted a DoD Bloggers Roundtable Discussion with U.S. Navy Capt. Samuel Charles Henry Howard, commanding officer of the USS Bataan from his ship off the Haitian coast. Thank you Captain Howard for taking the time to tell us what your men and women were doing to support the relief efforts!
The Bataan medical staff now has 17 patients aboard the ship under their care. The medical staff as I reported earlier was expecting additional augmentees and 30 of the 87 augmentees have arrived. With the full complement of augmentees the number of medical personnel should reach approximately 117 and they will be able to use all four of their operating rooms. One of the survivors, a baby, has announced its presence and the sound of the child was extremely gratifying to the crew as they cared for it according to the Captain. Also, a 70 year old woman is being treated and resting well. The full range of injuries and ages are expected as they develop a medical triage system ashore for airlifting patients onto the Bataan and other medical capable ships.
The 22nd MEU relief distribution center ashore is being supported by helicopter operations off the Bataan's flight deck with surge type operations. The deck is normally manned for a ten hour flight window but the staff is working feverishly to keep the relief supplies flowing with extended operations through the night. The plan for delivering supplies from the Bataan with surface vessels is still on schedule but waiting for beach development for the landing craft to operate.
The Captain when asked about language issues stated that his team had enough French and French Creole speakers with the marines and sailors aboard. The on shore distribution center is using French speaker translators during their contact with the Haitian population as are the medics as they care for patients.
Again, thank you to LT Cragg of the DoD New Media Directorate and members of the DoD for this great opportunity to share directly with those involved in this relief operation! We are extremely proud of our service men and women and their efforts to save the lives of the injured, hungry and thirsty in Haiti!
For the latest reports on DoD efforts in Haiti please go to the following MilitaryAvenue Article: Index of the US Military Response (chronologically listed).
If you would like to listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive for an audio transcript of the Roundtable.
Photo Credit: Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU) carry bottles of water to load onto a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Julio Rivera