Portsmouth Coast Guard cutter helps in Haiti

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The first U.S. asset to arrive on scene to Haiti after the earthquake remains engaged in Haitian relief operations one week later.

The Portsmouth based Coast Guard Cutter Forward arrived off Port au Prince Jan. 13, at about 8 a.m. The crew provided air traffic control for military aircraft due to the damaged and inoperable control tower at Toussaint Louverture International Airport. They also began assessing the port, and ferrying supplies and injured people with their small boat and helicopter.

One of their primary missions was to pave the way for supplies to be delivered into the port of Cap Hatien. They began assessing the port and noted significant damage and destruction of its infrastructure adding to the difficulty of bringing aid to the country. The Detroit based MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, that deployed with the Forward, flew over some of the roadways leaving the port and verified that relief efforts delivered to Cap Haitien can be trucked to Port au Prince. They also observed multiple oil, fuel and sewage spills in the area.

Monday they were able to perform medical evacuations with their helicopter from the Killick Haitian Coast Guard base to the Sacred Heart Hospital in Milot.

“The flight mechanic talked about two children on the first flight who wanted to hold his hand for comfort,” said Cdr. Diane Durham, the commanding officer of the Forward.

“I am glad to be a part of the relief efforts in Haiti. It is a life changing experience and is the reason I joined the Coast Guard. It feels good to be part of something bigger than myself,” said Fireman Kendall Wilson, a crewmember aboard the Forward.

The Coast Guard Cutter Forward deployed with Maritime Intelligence Support Team 0410 and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Detroit.

In total, the Coast Guard has medically transported 29 critically injured U.S. Embassy personnel out of Haiti, evacuated approximately 662 American citizens and delivered 512 urban search and rescue team members to Port au Prince. The Coast Guard will continue to support the massive relief effort in Haiti by providing humanitarian assistance to Haitian survivors, evacuating critically injured U.S. personnel and evacuating U.S. citizens from Haiti. The complexities crews face with this massive relief operation are immense due to the magnitude of damage to Haiti’s infrastructure.

For imagery and video of Coast Guard relief efforts in Haiti, please go to the Coast Guard Visual Information website at http://cgvi.uscg.mil/.

Additional Coast Guard assets responding to the area are:

  • An HC-144A Ocean Sentry aircraft from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center, Mobile, Ala.
  • An HC-130J Hercules fixed-wing aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.
  • An HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, Calif.
  • Two HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft from Barber’s Point, Hawaii.
  • Two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews. They are from the Coast Guard HITRON based in Jacksonville, Fla., And Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, Mich.
  • Two HU-25 Falcon jet crews from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Fla.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Miami, Fla.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West, Fla.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, N.H.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Oak, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender homeported in Charleston, S.C.

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