15th MEU Helicopters Launch from Peleliu in Support of Pakistan Relief Efforts
INDIAN OCEAN – Two U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) launched from the flight deck of U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) today as part of the continued U.S. humanitarian assistance to Pakistan in support of flood relief from the recent monsoon. The helicopters are the first two aircraft of 19 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps helicopters that will deploy to Pakistan to operate in partnership with the Pakistani military throughout flood-impacted areas.
Their mission is simple: support the Pakistani Government as needed, and provide additional critical heavy-lift capability. These helicopters have the strength to lift 16 tons of food and equipment and the capacity to evacuate stranded people on short notice, a necessity in areas damaged by flood water.
As monsoon rains continued to worsen the flood region and displace millions of people, the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked Marines of the 15th MEU arrived in international waters off the coast of Karachi, Pakistan, on short notice with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced) (HMM-165). HMM-165 (REIN) contains four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, as well as 12 CH-46E Sea Knight medium lift and transport-capable helicopters. In support of the relief efforts, the ARG is augmented with three MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters from Navy Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15, based from Norfolk, Va.
“On my last deployment with the 15th MEU, we conducted humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Indonesia following the tsunami,” said Lt. Col. Todd Oneto, commanding officer of HMM-165 (REIN). “I am confident in our ability to help Pakistan in its relief efforts.”
The Navy and Marine Corps team is uniquely capable of providing sustained humanitarian assistance operations at sea and ashore. The Peleliu ARG consists of amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), and amphibious transport dock ship USS Dubuque (LPD 8). All three ships are capable of moving equipment and personnel, simultaneously by surface or air.
Peleliu ARG and 15th MEU are currently executing a regularly scheduled deployment to the region in support of ongoing maritime security operations, and serve as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command. The ARG/MEU team report directly to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) Five, which is responsible for all amphibious forces deployed to 5th Fleet, and oversees the planning and execution of contingency response missions and maritime humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.
The 5th Fleet's area of responsibility encompasses 2.5 million square miles of water and includes the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.