USS Ashland Departs Saipan, Ending Typhoon Relief Efforts

Marines from the 31st Expeditionary Unit and sailors from the USS Ashland clear a tree during a community service project Aug. 14, 2015, at Garapan Elementary School in Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor. (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)
Marines from the 31st Expeditionary Unit and sailors from the USS Ashland clear a tree during a community service project Aug. 14, 2015, at Garapan Elementary School in Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor. (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Ashland left Saipan on Sunday, ending weeks of relief assistance to the U.S. territory following a strike by Typhoon Soudelor earlier this month.

Sailors aboard the Sasebo-based, dock landing ship and Marines from the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit distributed more than 300,000 gallons of water and 70,000 meals since arriving Aug. 8, according to a Navy statement.

Servicemembers also helped clear debris at local schools last week.

The 36th Contingency Response Group from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, will continue to unload supplies from airplanes through Sept. 6, according to the Marianas Variety newspaper.

The Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard have also contributed to cleanup and relief efforts, officials said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will continue coordinating relief efforts out of Saipan's Army Reserve center, military officials said Monday.

Typhoon Soudelor struck Saipan Aug. 2-3 with estimated 120-mph gusts, heavy rains and lightning, leaving the island's 50,000 residents and tourists without water or power.

Although no deaths have been directly attributed to the typhoon, the storm ravaged the island's infrastructure and left several families homeless. More than 7,000 people have applied for FEMA assistance, officials said last week.

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