INTERNATIONAL RELIEF (Haiti-Jan. 16, 2010)
Marines (and Navy) Bound for Haiti
The 2,200 marines and sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are headed for Haiti to provide earthquake relief assistance on shore and off. The MEU will provide engineering support, medical assistance and water purification equipment.
The MEU, which includes aircraft and logistics elements, is leaving its tanks and Harrier fighter jets behind but bringing trucks, earth moving equipment and light armored vehicles.
The force is deploying aboard three Navy ships – USS Bataan, USS Carter Hall and USS Fort McHenry – with CH-53 Super Stallion and UH-1 Huey helicopters. The ships are expected to reach Haitian waters Tuesday (Jan. 19).
The Bataan (LHD 5) is an amphibious assault ship equipped with a 600-bed hospital. It also carries large air cushioned landing craft (LCAC) that can move large loads of equipment and personnel to shore quickly. A video at the Marine Corps Times gives a good idea of the size and capability of the Bataan.
Both the USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and Carter Hall (LSD 50) are amphibious dock and landing ships that will also help move equipment in large amonts to shore. The port facilities in Port-au-Prince were wrecked by the 7.0-magnitude arthquake on Tuesday.
The 22nd MEU, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will deploy with additional French- and Creole-speaking interpreters, public affairs specialists and possibly more medical personnel and engineers from other Marine units, according to Marine Corps Capt. Clark Carpenter.
The 22ns MEU consists of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (three infantry companies, a weapons company, artillery battery and headquarters and service company), the 22nd Combat Logistics battalion (with military police, medical, maintenance, motor transport, engineering and landing support units) and — for this trip — eight CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, based out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., according to Marine Corps Times.