US sends aircraft carrier to help Philippines
Washington – US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other US Navy ships to make best speed for the Philippines to aid disaster relief efforts there, the Pentagon said Monday.
Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines Friday and Saturday. An estimated 10,000 people in central Philippine province of Leyte might have been killed.
The aircraft carrier, which carries 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, is currently in Hong Kong for a port visit. The crew is being recalled early from shore leave and the ship is expected to be underway later Monday evening, reported Xinhua citing Pentagon Press Secretary George Little in a statement .
In company with the carrier will be the cruisers USS Antietam and USS Cowpens, and the destroyer USS Mustin. The supply ship USNS Charles Drew is already underway. USS Lassen got underway Sunday for the region.
Embarked on board USS George Washington is Carrier Air Wing Five, which has a collection of aircraft designed to perform various functions including disaster relief and includes Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 flying the MH-60S Seahawk; and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron ! 77 flying the MH-60R Seahawk.
The Pentagon said these ships and ! aircraft will be able to provide humanitarian assistance, supplies, and medical care in support of the ongoing efforts led by the government and military of the Philippines. The ships should be on station within 48-72 hours.