Coast Guard continues support in wake of Haiti earthquake

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Coast Guard, the first Department of Homeland Security agency to provide assistance to Haiti following Tuesday’s earthquake, continues to provide support Wednesday to the U.S. Government’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts.

The aircrew of a Coast Guard H-60 Jayhawk helicopter medically evacuated four, critically injured U.S. citizens from the U.S. Embassy Wednesday morning and a second medevac of five people was conducted Wednesday afternoon. The injured were transported to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guantanomo Bay, Cuba. Two Coast Guard C-130s are scheduled to arrive Wednesday evening with the ability to evacuate up to 140 personnel to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Two other Coast Guard C-130s from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., are being prepositioned to Air Station Miami to support the relief efforts. Among the pending aircraft missions for Coast Guard aircraft is an airlift to Haiti from the U.S. of two Urban Search and Rescue Teams which is being coordinated through U.S. Southern Command.

The Coast Guard Cutter Forward arrived in the waters off Port Au Prince, Haiti, at about 8 a.m., Wednesday and together with Maritime Intelligence Support Team 0410, was able to assess some of the damage caused to the Port Au Prince port. Coast Guard personnel observed multiple oil and fuel spills as well as possible sewage spills in the area of the port, about one to one and a half miles from the coast. They also reported seeing multiple small fires along the shoreline and significant damage to or destruction of infrastructure at the port.

Damage to port infrastructure is reported to include the port’s container crane and other cargo cranes. Some of the cranes are reported to be completely submerged and others appear damaged but the extent of the damage cannot yet be fully determined.

Overflights of Haiti conducted by two, Coast Guard C-130 aircraft from Air Station St. Petersburg, Fla., revealed much less observable damage along the Northern shore of Haiti than in the area surrounding Port Au Prince.

The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk also arrived in the coastal waters of Haiti Wednesday afternoon.

The Coast Guard Cutters Tahoma and Valiant are slated arrive in Haitian waters Thursday. The Tahoma is loaded with relief supplies for earthquake survivors.

“When the sun came up this morning in Port au Prince there was a Coast Guard cutter off-shore providing command and control, assessing the situation, providing situational awareness,” said Adm. Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant. “So within 24 to 36 hours we had three cutters with the capacity to support hundreds if not thousands,” said Allen.

Allen made these remarks during the opening minutes of an address today at the Surface Naval Association conference.

“We encourage the American people to donate what funds they can afford to disaster relief organizations such as the American Red Cross to allow voluntary relief groups to provide goods and services to disaster survivors in Haiti as quickly as possible,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Miami, Fla.

The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter, is homeported in Key West, Fla.

The Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, N.H.

The Coast Guard Cutter Forward, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter, is homeported in Portsmouth, Va.
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