SANTA RITA, Guam -- Commander, Navy Expeditionary Forces Command Pacific is executing crisis-response with Task Force West in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) efforts to rapidly assist residents of Tinian and Saipan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, recover from Super Typhoon Yutu.
Super Typhoon Yutu made a direct hit on the tiny U.S. territories Oct. 25. The storm packed sustained winds in excess of 180 mph, leaving island residents without power or running water, and leaving many roads and public facilities waterlogged and surrounded by downed trees. It was the strongest storm to ever hit a U.S. territory.
Also know as Commander, Task Force (CTF) 75, the Guam-based staff's assets, including Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB) 1 Det. Guam and Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 3 began assisting with recovery efforts the day after the historic storm swept directly across the isolated islands to conduct Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) operations.
“The amount of effort and forward-leaning professionalism exhibited by our CTF-75 personnel and their ability to support Task Force West has been impressive to say the least,” said CTF-75 Commander Capt. Eric Correll. “The rapid and flexible response from all of our task groups and their ability to integrate with each other, with our Marines and the rest of our joint service family has been extraordinary. Our actions stand to highlight the fact we are ready, as a Navy task force, to respond to any crisis in the region.”
NMCB-1, Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and 36th Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) completed several important projects beginning Oct. 29, including purifying and distributing more than 20,000 gallons of water; clearing two public schools, government buildings and the municipal power facility of downed trees and debris, and restoring emergency services capacity to respond to medical emergencies.
The Seabees first came to the region during the liberation of the islands from Japanese forces in 1944 and have integrated with the community ever since.
“I saw Seabees helping out with Hurricane Katrina when I was eight years old and living in east Texas,” said Construction Electrician 2nd Class Jeromy Harris, assigned to NMCB-1. “That’s what made me want to be a Seabee and help people. Now we’re here in Tinian and I’m able to be part of that humanitarian effort.”
CRS-3 utilized Mark VI patrol boats to deliver military members from the joint services, and supplies and equipment that was essential in recovery efforts.
Members from EODMU-5 used Unmanned Underwater Vehicles to clear a safe water way for U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia (WLB 215) to enter Saipan and deliver essential FEMA supplies.
CTF-75 has the ability to create adaptive force packages (AFP) with Navy Expeditionary Forces that can be used alone or in support of other CTFs to meet 7th Fleet goals and objectives. The AFP concept is important to bringing the right tailored capability to respond to irregular challenges and contingency operations, creating synergy and the ability to effectively and efficiently command and control forces for non-standard missions.
During DSCA operations, the U.S. military provides essential, lifesaving and preserving support to American citizens affected by declared natural disasters. Led by FEMA, the U.S. government’s domestic emergency response agency, CTF-75 continues to partner with Task Force West, local agencies and FEMA to address critical shortfalls of material and supplies to support the people of CNMI. The next steps include re-establishing semi-normalcy in the CNMI, including the setup of temporary FEMA shelters for families with homes destroyed by Super Typhoon Yutu.