Military Photo: USS Wasp in Lebanon

Posted: 08/01/2006

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Katrina Scampini, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Nearly 1,300 Sailors on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) left Naval Station Norfolk Aug. 25, for a surge deployment in support of the ongoing Joint Task Force Lebanon mission.

A detachment from Mine Countermeasure Squadron (HM) 14, Assault Craft Units (ACU) 2 and 4, and a Fleet Medical Team left with Wasp to support a Request for Forces (RFF) from European Command.

�This is an exciting time for the crew,� said Capt. Todd R. Miller, commanding officer of Wasp. �This is exactly the sort of mission we�ve been training for and are ready for.�

Wasp will deploy to the Eastern Mediterranean to provide support to the American embassy in Beirut and Department of Defense (DoD)-approved humanitarian assistance efforts.

Crew members aboard Wasp had very little notice before preparing for the deployment, but have confidence the ship is well equipped for the mission.

�Any small repairs we have to make I�m sure will be completed within a matter of days,� said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Brandon Heartman, a member of Wasp�s communications department. �We�ve just got to do what we�ve got to do.�

Storekeeper 1st Class Elona Colm, the hazardous material coordinator on Wasp, said many Sailors are both anxious and excited about the deployment.�

It was a very big surprise,� Colm said. �The crew members had about two weeks to get ready, but we are prepared for anything.�Aviation Support Equipment Technician Airman Pete Brown, a crew member of Wasp�s Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment, said it was hard to leave his family so suddenly.�It�s always difficult to leave your family, but the most important thing is to get the ship ready to go,� said Brown.�Because we have maintained the readiness of the ship, our concern was mostly for the Sailors,� said Miller, �to make sure they are stable both with their families and financially.�According to Miller, the Navy remains committed to six-month deployments, but the ship�s schedule will depend on how long it takes to complete the required mission.�This is a great opportunity for our Sailors,� said Miller. �You can sense the excitement of the crew when you walk around and look at their faces.�

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