USNS Walter S. Diehl deploys to the Philippines to support Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts

USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193) supply officer Ronald McCann speaks to Military Sealift Command Far East public affairs officer Ed Baxter about the ship’s humanitarian assistance mission to the Philippines.

Civil service mariner Ron McCann, supply officer assigned aboard USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193) inspects cargo containing humanitarian supplies on the ship's flight deck today while pierside at Sembawang Wharves in Singapore. Diehl got underway today for waters off the central Philippines as soon as all cargo was safely stowed aboard. The humanitarian assistance/disaster relief mission is part of Operation Damayan, the U.S. Navy's ongoing relief mission to help thousands of people who have been left homeless or without fresh food, safe drinking water or lack medical supplies. (U.S. Navy photo by Edward Baxter/Released).

Civil service mariner Ron McCann, supply officer assigned aboard USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193)inspects cargo
containing humanitarian supplies on the ship’s flight deck today while pierside at Sembawang Wharves in Singapore. Diehl got underway today for waters off the central Philippines as soon as all cargo was safely stowed aboard. The humanitarian assistance/disaster relief mission is part of
Operation Damayan, the U.S. Navy’s ongoing relief mission to help thousands of people who have been left homeless or without fresh food, safe drinking
water or lack medical supplies. (U.S. Navy photo by Edward Baxter/Released).

Diehl’s supply officer, Ronald McCann, answers his office phone and then his cell phone. Next, he responds to a call via ship’s radio from the chief steward. 

 “Sorry for the delay,” the 68-year-old civil service mariner said. “No worries,” I replied. “Take care of ship’s business first.”

Next, we head onto the flight deck to take an up close and personal look at cargo pallets staged on the ship’s flight deck. From a distance, well, it just looks like a bunch of boxes. Not much to rave about.

But, there’s a small white tag attached to each box reading:  Baby wash, two and three inch active flex tape, hand sanitizer, wrist splints, and even bandages with cartoon symbols designed for small children.

Now it hits home – this ship is heading for waters off the central Philippines!          Crew members aboard Diehl loaded humanitarian supplies at Singapore’s Sembawang Wharves today to assist people impacted by the disastrous typhoon, which struck there earlier this month.

Super typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines Nov. 7 with winds gusting up to 160 mph. Thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless by the disaster.

Civil service mariners worked in Singapore’s searing heat throughout the day loading scores of pallets of cargo, which also includes large and small water jugs, insect repellant and blankets.

 “These supplies will go to those who need help the most and I’m very glad we can contribute to the relief efforts,” McCann said as he inspected boxes of supplies prepositioned on the ship’s flight deck.

With all cargo safely loaded aboard, Diehl set sail right away destined for waters near SamarIsland in the Philippines.

Diehl is scheduled to rendezvous with dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Charles S. Drew (T-AKE 10) – which has been operating near Samar for several days – where Diehl will transfer the cargo for onward shipment to staging areas ashore. Drew’s embarked MH-60 helicopters continue to ferry urgently-needed supplies from ship to shore.

While deployed to the Philippines, Diehl will conduct underway replenishment operations with ships from USS George Washington (CVN-73) Carrier Strike Group, supporting the U.S. military’s humanitarian mission dubbed “Operation Damayan.”

“We are all anxious to get underway and help out,” McCann said as we shook hands and said farewell. “Good luck and smooth sailing,” I replied.

About jmarconi