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.
— U.S. Pacific Command (@PacificCommand) November 15, 2016
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.
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.