NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7)departed Naval Station Norfolk Monday on a four-monthdeployment.
The deployment will take the Iwo Jima to the U.S. Naval SouthernCommand area of focus as part of a large humanitarian operationcalled Continuing Promise.
Officials say non-governmental organizations, Iwo Jima sailors,Marines, as well as the Air Force Band and Army veterinarians willparticipate in the mission. The U.S. Public Health Service is alsosending representatives on the deployment.
"It demonstrates our strong commitment to our neighborhood andthe nations in our community," said CAPT Tom Negus, MissionCommander
As part of Continuing Promise, the Navy says the Iwo Jima willdeploy to eight Central and South American and Caribbeannations. The ship's first stop will be in Haiti, wherevictims of January's earthquake are still struggling.
"Many of our great Americans that are going down there will begoing ashore to provide assistance and if there's specific needswhere people need to be treated on board, we'll bring them out tothe ship," said CAPT Jeff Amick, Commanding Officer of the USS IwoJima.
Among U.S. Navy vessels, the Iwo Jima has medical facilitiessecond only to a hospital ship like the USNS Comfort.
"We have four operating rooms that we can be running,"said CAPT William Tanner, Senior Medical Officer on the USSIwo Jima. "We have an ICU and a full on medical ward."
With a crew of 1,100 sailors, and 500 embarked Marines, the IwoJima will engage in numerous exercises and operations, includingtheater security cooperation and military-to-militaryengagements.
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