Nov 122013

The US Navy has ordered three amphibious ships to prepare to head to the Philippines to help victims of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, officials said Tuesday.

“They are on standby in Sasebo,” a Navy official told AFP, referring to a port in southern Japan. “They are uniquely suited for this type of mission.”

The vessels awaiting orders are the USS Denver, an amphibious transport dock ship, and the Ashland and Germantown, amphibious warfare ships designed to transport and launch landing craft.

All three have landing decks that can serve helicopters as well as medical facilities and the capability to produce desalinated water.

The US military often employs its versatile amphibious ships for disaster relief efforts.

Washington had already ordered urgent emergency efforts in response to the massive typhoon, which has destroyed entire coastal communities, possibly claiming 10,000 lives.

On Monday evening, the Pentagon announced it was dispatching the aircraft carrier George Washington and its accompanying cruisers and destroyers, including its fleet of helicopters and airplanes.

The carrier group is due to arrive on Thursday or Friday.

Another naval destroyer and a supply ship are also en route to the Philippines.

The American military has a team of 243 Marines on the ground in hard-hit Tacloban on Leyte island to carry out an initial assessment of humanitarian needs.

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