WASHINGTON – U.S. Marines and sailors have been helping local and federal agencies in Saipan with relief efforts since Aug. 7, after Typhoon Soudelor struck the island Aug. 2-3, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said here Aug. 10.
More than 48,000 people live on Saipan, the largest island of the 300-mile archipelago that makes up the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the western Pacific Ocean.
Marines and sailors from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the USS Ashland, a forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship in the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, have been working since they arrived in Saipan to distribute relief supplies there, Davis said.
Delivering Needed Aid
“Marine Corps MV-22 [Ospreys] from the 31st MEU based in Guam and the USS Ashland have delivered a total of five water bladders to the island,” he added, noting that Marines are manning the 3,000-gallon water containers 24 hours a day.
The Ashland also delivered Federal Emergency Management Agency generators from Guam, and personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are helping set up power wells on Saipan, Davis said.
Four MV-22B Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, 31st MEU, are staged in nearby Guam and are providing airlift support as part of relief efforts, according to a statement released by the 31st MEU.
So far, the 31st MEU has delivered more than 11,400 gallons of water and 48,300 individual ready-to-eat meals to five distribution sites across the island. Marines also have set up a water purification system to produce more drinking water for the people of Saipan, the statement said.
The Ashland returned to Guam and will bring back to Saipan a high-production tactical water-purification system, multiple mobile water containers, equipment to repair and restore power and about 10,000 pounds of Red Cross relief goods, the statement said.
When it arrives in Saipan, the Ashland will produce up to 40,000 gallons of drinking water a day to be distributed by the 31st MEU Marines. The 31st MEU was conducting scheduled training in the Asia-Pacific region when it was redirected to support Saipan relief efforts, the statement said.