USS PREBLE, At Sea - USS Preble (DDG 88) was one of the first U.S. Navy assets to respond with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Japan March 15, providing more than 700 pounds of supplies to earthquake and tsunami survivors.
Preble, along with embarked Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43 air detachment personnel, were called into action as first responders to survey the coastline and provide an aerial perspective to other ships in the surrounding area.
During the surveillance mission, the pilots and aircrew had firsthand encounters with the Japanese survivors as they landed in various remote locations.
"We could see isolated areas where survivors had drawn in the dirt 'SOS' or a large encircled 'H' as a cry for help. We landed nearby to assess the situation and determine what we could do to help," said Lt. Joe Landi, describing their patrol.
Upon interacting with the stranded survivors and hearing the firsthand account of HSL 43 crew members, Preble's crew volunteered to provide supplies to the Japanese people from their own deployment provisions. Their contributions included warm weather clothing, wool blankets, non-perishable food and water.
The Supply Department on board also provided as many dry goods and bottles of water as possible. In less than two hours, the mess decks were full of donated supplies for the helicopter to bring to land to aid in the rescue and assistance effort.
"Today marks a day where we stand with the nation and the people of Japan. I could not be prouder of our team. I am humbled by their selfless generosity and willingness to contribute to the Japanese people in need. It's amazing what we can get accomplished in such short notice with such limited resources," said
Preble Commanding Officer Cmdr. Joe Cahill.
Preble is part of the Ronald Reagan Strike Group and is currently operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Tomodachi.