Courtesy Story
By Lance Cpl. Ryan Wicks
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

USS ESSEX, At Sea – Marines and Sailors with the Essex Amphibious Readiness Group prepared for possible humanitarian assistance operations onboard the forward deployed amphibious ships USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Juneau (LPD 10), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Mustin (DDG 89), May 11.

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group along with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is steaming to support potential humanitarian assistance tasking in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.

“This is what we are here for,” said chief hull maintenance technician (SW/AW) Andres Carillo, USS Essex. “It’s our mission to help those in need.”

The service members are scheduled to fill more than 14,000 5-gallon plastic water bladders with fresh water. In the event of humanitarian operations, the water could be loaded onto landing craft utility vehicles and various helicopters to be distributed to those affected by the cyclone.

“We are capitalizing on the excess water the ship has to support the victims who need it,” said Capt. Ray Howard, embark officer, 31st MEU. “We want to be able have the water distributed by the quickest means possible and be on call for help so that when, within reach, we can send the water via helicopter and boat to the disaster areas.”

The process of filling up the bladders required a great deal of manpower and hard work, according to Carillo.

Marines and Sailors set up shop first before filling the water bladders. The Essex’s repair division manufactured a fresh water distribution system that mirrored a miniature farming irrigation system. Afterward, both Marines and Sailors prepared large boxes to store the water bladders for transport. During the filling process, they checked the pipes of the water distribution system to ensure no leakage occurred.

After each bag was filled, Marines and Sailors packed the clear plastic water bladders into the boxes.

Throughout the day, the service members worked to accomplish the mission aimed in facilitating humanitarian efforts.

“It’s great to see the Marines and Sailors working together to accomplish the mission,” Howard said. “It’s a great show of joint service camaraderie.”

The water bladders are just one of many preparations for the humanitarian assistance efforts taking place throughout the Essex Amphibious Ready Group.