NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk-based USS Arlington embarked for Haiti Tuesday to help with disaster relief after a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake over the weekend.
The Arlington, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, left Tuesday night. It will join U.S. Southern Command Joint Task Force-Haiti and is a part of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, the U.S. Navy said.
More than 1,400 deaths and about 7,000 injuries have been reported after the quake on the morning of Saturday, August 14. Other U.S. rescue crews such as Virginia Task Force 1 have also been deployed.
Around 3:30 p.m., crews were loading the last few boxes and supplies onto the ship.
By 7 p.m., the Arlington was on its way to Haiti in a quick turnaround.
Before leaving Tuesday, the ship had just returned from a three-week training exercise at sea. Her crew quickly unloaded training gear Tuesday morning and replaced it with critical supplies to help the people of Haiti.
“When it comes to crisis, to watch how quickly we spin up and support, like one ship and a bunch of folks and get the support we need, it’s amazing,” said Capt. Eric Kellum, commanding officer of the USS Arlington.
Sailors quickly loaded 10 pallets of supplies and two helicopters.
Kellum told 10 On Your Side he’s honored to lead the three-day voyage to Haiti and provide necessary relief.
“It’s medical supplies, it’s food, it’s stuff for small kids like diapers and baby formula. My orders literally say ‘to ease suffering and save lives,'” Kellum explained.
This is Kellum’s third humanitarian mission in 27 years.
“Our hearts are obviously, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Haitians,” Kellum stated.
Once the Arlington pulls into Haiti on Friday night, crews will begin assessing the need.
“This is one of our most satisfying missions that we do,” said Lt. Col. Cory Murtaugh of the USMC.
That’s where Murtaugh’s team comes in.
“Additional first aid, water delivery, food delivery, rubble clearance of obstacles and roadways, search and rescue and casualty evacuation as well as we have a fleet surgical team on board that will be able to provide medical assistance,” Murtaugh told 10 On Your Side.
420 sailors and about 200 marines will work together to offer aid in Haiti.
“This ship is amazing. My sailors are awesome and it’s such a privilege,” Kellum said.
He told 10 On Your Side his crew is prepared to stay in Haiti for 120 days if needed.