NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Two Norfolk-based Navy ships are preparing to leave Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after helping with Hurricane Irma response efforts.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) stated USS Wasp and USS Oak Hill were no longer needed as they transition into hurricane recovery. They made this decision alongside Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after an assessment of the current support teams in San Juan.
“They have provided great value to the overall response effort, contributing search and rescue capabilities that saved lives. They are now proceeding on to their next missions in defense of our nation,” the DoD stated in a press release sent out on Thursday.
The majority of Wasp and Oak Hill’s contributions to the hurricane relief effort has been helicopter support, according to the DoD. FEMA and the DoD determined there are sufficient land-based helicopters and lift capabilities in the territories to continue helping the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as they recover.
Wasp was on its way from Norfolk to Japan on Aug. 30 to assume duties as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious force of the U.S. 7th Fleet when it was redirected to assist with relief efforts. Oak Hill was with USS Kearsarge in Texas helping with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey when both ships were redirected on Aug. 31 to prepare for a response to Irma.