Naval Base San Diego; a home for HA/DRs

Last Updated : 5/26/2011 10:23:45 AM

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By Lt. Lenaya Rotklein, Naval Base San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Naval Base San Diego is the hub and home for Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response (HA/DR) efforts that bring comfort and hope to countries and communities around the world. The 59 home-ported ships, 120 tenant commands, and 30,000 Navy personnel and their families who call the base their home, are ambassadors for the United States through the Navy whenever they provide relief to those in need.

In addition to ships deployed, training, or on ready standby to respond to any emergency or crisis that may occur around the globe at any given time, hospital ship USNS Mercy, Project Handclasp’s Global Logistics Center, and the NBSD Emergency Operations Center are prepared to take action. 

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis are unpredictable threats but the Navy is ready to take action on sea, air, and land to provide disaster relief or even basic humanitarian assistance when disasters destroy a country’s infrastructure 

“The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard determined that humanitarian assistance and disaster response are core capabilities of our Maritime Strategy, it is imperative that we are prepared to respond to all potential threats,” said Capt. Rick Williamson, Naval Base San Diego commanding officer. 

“The range of what we train to is broad and varied. We have troops fighting in Afghanistan, ships patrolling waters teeming with pirates, and we have Sailors in many countries helping people recovering from disaster.  We recognize the importance of what we do and we make sure commands who call Naval Base San Diego home have what they need to get the job done- this includes getting ships underway, providing a space for them to work and making sure their personnel are ready.” 

Most recently, Naval Base San Diego Sailors’ helping hands extended across the Pacific to Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami March 11. 

Military families evacuated from Japan were provided transportation, lodging, assistance, child care and meals by Naval Base San Diego personnel. 

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Medical supplies and hygiene material were delivered directly to Japan through the Navy’s Project Handclasp, a one-of-a-kind program that collects and distributes donated humanitarian, educational and goodwill materials donated by America’s private sector at no cost to those in need. 

“In the past year, Project Handclasp has provided $4.5 million in donations to more than 30 countries,” said Lt. Benjamin Harms, Project Handclasp donor relations officer.

Currently San Diego’s own, USS Cleveland (LPD 7), is leading the Navy’s sixth annual training and humanitarian assistance mission, Pacific Partnership.

Pacific Partnership is designed to carry out medical and engineering infrastructure projects, develop sustainability projects to include recycling methods, clean water practices, and alternative energy initiatives and to equip host nations with programs to help them prepare for and support emergency relief efforts.   San Diego-based ships USNS Mercy and USS Peleliu (LHA 5) have participated in past missions.

Apart from helping neighbors around the world, Naval Base San Diego is focused on leading recovery efforts on the home front following potential disasters.  The installation’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is manned 24-hours and conducts multiple drills every year to prepare for a wide array of threats such as wild fires, tsunamis, and earthquakes.   During these drills, base personnel work with other military and local, state and federal agencies to determine the surge support capability the base can provide in the event one of the scenarios were to happen. 

“We are trained and ready to assist when called upon,” said Dave Kenneweg, Naval Base San Diego training and readiness officer.  “If a disaster were to strike, we are going to do whatever we can to protect our operational assets and provide relief to Sailors, families, and anyone who may need it.”

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