The Department Of Defense announced that a total of 14 US Navy ships involving 17,000 sailors and marines were now operating under the disaster relief mission subsequent to last Friday earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A significant logistical effort was under way to deliver water and food while assets were also being provided to support the Japanese Self Defense Force. As of yesterday 113 helicopter sorties (including heavy lift CH-53 helicopters) and 125 fixed-wing sorties had participated in Search And Rescue missions as well as the delivery of 129,000 gallons of water and 4,200 pounds of food according to Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan. The 7th fleet with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit now re-positioned west of the Japanese peninsula with USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry and the USS Germantown and 2,200 marines at strength was being reinforced by USS Blue Ridge, the command ship for Navy Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet. In addition high-pressure water pumps were delivered to Yokota Air Base by USNS Safeguard to join in the fire fighting mission at Fukushima Daiichi plant.
US Air Force was also providing strategic heavy lift capability with Boeing C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes contributing heavily to the overall relief effort. A C-17 from Travis Air Force Base in California had initiated two missions last Friday as part of Operation Tomodachi, (“friend” in Japanese), supported by two KC-10 Extenders air refueling assets. Another C-17 from Joint Base Lewis-McChord 62nd Airlift Command in Washington state delivered 107 tons of search and rescue equipment. C-17s from Dover Air Force base also arrived at Misawa Air Base where C-130s had joined in the delivery effort for 19 power generators needed there to.