Friday, April 8, 2011

Operation Tomodachi Update: Suddenly Not Much Going On

When the earthquake and resultant tsunami visited massive amounts of destruction on Japan on the 11th of March, the US Seventh Fleet sprang into action.  While coordinating all of the ship and aircraft movements during the ensuing disaster relief mission, the 7th Fleet Commander's staff was working inhumanly long hours while still keeping tabs on all of the things going on in the rest of their Area of Responsibility, the largest and most dynamic AOR the US Navy has.

To ease the strain, the staff called for personnel augmentation from elsewhere in the Navy, both active duty and reserve components.  That's how I got here.

By the time I arrived, the grueling initial pace of the operation had already started to slow.  Working in concert with the government of Japan, the search and rescue mission at sea was wrapped up pretty quickly and the seaborne delivery of humanitarian aid supplies was soon completed.

At the end of a formal "thank you" aboard the USS RONALD REAGAN, the bulk of Operation Tomodachi had drawn to an end.  In fact, all that was left for us to do was to extract the team of sailors and marines who had completed some initial cleanup efforts on O Shima island, wrap up the survey of obstructions in Kessenuma Port, and return ships to their regularly scheduled training and exercises.

I'm still going to be here to augment the staff for the rest of April just in case there's an aftershock that causes catastrophic damage at the Fukushima nuclear power plant (or any of the other nuclear reactors in the area).  But being the guy in charge of the ships involved in an operation that no longer has any ships assigned to it is not exactly challenging.

Still, I'll at least get a chance to go ashore in Japan before too much longer.  I'll get to post pictures by then.

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