U.S. Marine Team to Aid Japan Recovery Effort

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 — A team of Marines specif­i­cal­ly trained to oper­ate in chem­i­cal, bio­log­i­cal, nuclear and radi­o­log­i­cal envi­ron­ments is deploy­ing to Japan, Defense Depart­ment offi­cials said today.
A 155-mem­ber ini­tial response force com­posed of Marines from Naval Sup­port Facil­i­ty Indi­an Head, Md., could arrive in Japan as ear­ly as tomor­row, said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pen­ta­gon spokes­woman.

The unit is part of the Chem­i­cal, Bio­log­i­cal, and Inci­dent Response Force. The ini­tial response force will sup­port the U.S. on-scene com­man­der by pro­vid­ing a rapid response capa­bil­i­ty. If request­ed, it could also advise Japan­ese author­i­ties.

The Fukushi­ma Dai-Ichi nuclear pow­er plant is leak­ing radioac­tive mate­ri­als, and the extent of the dam­age to the plant is not known. The Marine force will bring equip­ment for agent detec­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion; casu­al­ty search, res­cue and per­son­nel decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion; and emer­gency med­ical care and sta­bi­liza­tion of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed per­son­nel.

As part of Oper­a­tion Tomodachi, U.S. per­son­nel con­tin­ue to help the Japan­ese fol­low­ing the mag­ni­tude 9.0 earth­quake and sub­se­quent tsuna­mi that dev­as­tat­ed large areas of north­ern Japan.

U.S. Navy divers helped to reopen the har­bor at Hachi­no­he. Amer­i­can ships used side-scan sonar to sur­vey the harbor’s water­way, enabling divers to remove obsta­cles such as vehi­cles, a small stor­age build­ing, 20-foot stor­age con­tain­ers and 100-ton con­crete blocks the tsuna­mi washed out to sea.

Japan’s Mar­itime Self Defense Force and com­mer­cial divers are coor­di­nat­ing with U.S. 7th Fleet units to assess the port of Miyako and plan for clear­ance oper­a­tions there. The U.S. units include the USNS Safe­guard, the USS Tor­tu­ga, Mobile Div­ing and Sal­vage Unit 1, Explo­sive Ord­nance Dis­pos­al Mobile Unit 5 and Under­wa­ter Con­struc­tion Team 2. The Navy teams may do the same in the port of Oshi­ma after com­ple­tion of oper­a­tions at Miyako, offi­cials said.

U.S. Navy barges con­tain­ing 500,000 gal­lons of fresh water from Yoko­su­ka are being used at the crip­pled nuclear pow­er plant. The water will be used to replace salt water in the reac­tor cool­ing sys­tem to lessen the cor­ro­sive impact of salt from the sea water still being used for emer­gency cool­ing.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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