131120-N-ZS026-378 TACLOBAN, Philippines (Nov. 20, 2013) - Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and Marines assigned to the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade load boxes of supplies into a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 to be airlifted to nearby villages in support of Operation Damayan. The George Washington Strike Group in coordination with Joint Task Force 505 personnel is assisting the Philippine government in ongoing efforts in response to super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trevor Welsh/RELEASED)
USS Ashland USS Germantown Replace USS George Washington 
From Joint Task Force 505 Public Affairs  
CAMP AGUINALDO, MANILA - The Armed Forces of the Philippines and Joint Task Force 505 welcome the amphibious ships USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Germantown (LSD 42), in the concerted efforts to extend relief efforts to typhoon victims in Visayas.

The Ashland and Germantown have aboard a combined total of approximately 900 Marines, elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, based in Okinawa, Japan.

"Having amphibious ships here, along with the 31st MEU, brings more logistical capability and capacity to augment our on-going relief operations in Visayas," said Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Alan R. Luga.

The USS Ashland and the Germantown, both dock landing ships, replaced the USS George Washington which had been operating in the area since Nov. 14.

"We are very thankful to the United States Armed Forces for sending one of their aircraft carriers to the Philippines and immediately supporting our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations following the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda," Luga said.

Luga added that the USS George Washington played an important role in air transport when most airports are non-operational in critical areas in Eastern Visayas and the amphibious ships have a more robust ship-to-shore movement ability.

The Ashland and the Germantown carry landing craft, both air cushioned and utility, for moving large amounts of cargo and equipment ashore, and the 31st MEU brings heavy equipment which could be used to move debris.

"In addition to the enhanced capabilities of the Ashland and Germantown the Japanese Navy will be surveying the Eastern Coast of Samar and identifying additional impacted areas for relief support," said U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Wissler, JTF-505 commander.

"These are more suitable assets, and combined with the naval vessels from Japan, Australia, and other nations, we continue to be postured to help wherever the Philippine Government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines needs us and we will remain here until our unique capabilities are no longer necessary," Wissler said.

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