PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 13, 2016) – Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), and Royal New Zealand Navy Cmdr. John Chrighton, RNZN liaison officer, view a replenishment-at-sea with Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship Endeavour (A11). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 13, 2016) – Cmdr. Timothy LaBenz, commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), and Royal New Zealand Navy Cmdr. John Chrighton, RNZN liaison officer, view a replenishment-at-sea with Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship Endeavour (A11). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Jackson/Released)

By Cmdr. Tim LaBenz
Commanding officer, USS Sampson (DDG 102)

Families and friends of USS Sampson,

At the request of the Government of New Zealand, USS Sampson and her crew are heading to contribute to the ongoing recovery efforts occurring on New Zealand’s South Island after the devastating earthquake that occurred Nov. 14.

While the ship was originally scheduled to enter Auckland Harbour to participate in the 75th anniversary commemoration ceremony hosted by the Royal New Zealand Navy, we now join ships from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore to offer assistance.

Our prayers go out to the families in New Zealand who have lost loved ones, and for those who were affected by the earthquake – we stand with you. Know that this crew is energized and heading in your direction immediately to dutifully offer assistance if asked.

While we do not yet know how long we will remain in the area to assist or in what capacity we will help, we are fully prepared and eager to aid those in need.

Days like today humble me as the commanding officer of such a capable, enthusiastic and resilient crew. When the Government of New Zealand asked for help, the crew responded selflessly, wanting only to know how we could help and how quickly we could respond.

My sincere thanks to the families and friends of Sailors assigned to Sampson. Your unwavering support allows us to remain focused on this worthy mission.

Editor’s note: This message was originally posted Nov. 15, 2016, on the ship’s Facebook page.

WHENUAPAI, New Zealand (Nov. 15, 2016) Lt. j.g. Shane Lewis, with the Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47, examines a chart of New Zealand with an airman from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g Kyle Burdick/Released)
WHENUAPAI, New Zealand (Nov. 15, 2016) Lt. j.g. Shane Lewis, with the Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47, examines a chart of New Zealand with an airman from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g Kyle Burdick/Released)

At the request of the New Zealand Ministry of Defence the U.S Navy is providing maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to assist in life-saving efforts. A P-3C Orion assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 was participating in Exercise Mahi Tangaroa as part of the New Zealand International Naval Review when the earthquake occurred and has been tasked with assessing the area surrounding Kaikoura, New Zealand. The P-3C is currently operating from Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Auckland located in Whenuapai, New Zealand.