June 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka Navy Sunday welcomed a guided-missile cruiser of the United States Navy, USS 'Lake Erie' arrived at the Port of Colombo with embarked U.S. military personnel to support humanitarian assistance efforts across flood-affected areas across Sri Lanka.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d'affaires Robert Hilton welcomed the ship on arrival in Colombo and said, "We're grateful for the U.S. Navy and Pacific Command's participation in this humanitarian effort and close partnership with Sri Lanka."
"We share in the sorrow of the Sri Lankan people at the loss of life and devastation brought on by this disaster," said Adm. Harry Harris, commander U.S. Pacific Command. "Friends help friends, and the United States stands with Sri Lanka during this difficult time."
Because of the long-standing friendship between the United States and Sri Lanka, American forces are able to respond with critically needed capabilities. In addition, U.S. Pacific Command will soon send military aircraft and other specialists to assist with disaster relief and risk reduction.
"Whether it's rehabilitating flooded areas and schools or providing food and water, our sailors are well trained for this mission and we are ready to provide relief and assistance to the people of Sri Lanka," said Capt. Darren McPherson, commanding officer, USS Lake Erie.
The U.S. military has a history of successfully working with international relief organizations and host nations to provide relief to those affected by disaster.
In the past year, U.S. Pacific Command joined the Sri Lankan military for multinational assistance programs in both Jaffna and Hambantota, providing medical training for first responders, school renovations, and health clinics to surrounding communities. In addition, civil affairs officers from the U.S. and Sri Lankan militaries have partnered over the past three years to host a series of disaster management and coordination training workshops, bringing in civilian and military experts from across the region.
All of these visits have been instrumental to establishing relationships with the Sri Lankan military and civil service agencies, allowing U.S. military personnel to efficiently respond when needed.
USS Lake Erie left her homeport of San Diego in May 2017 on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific.
During its 14 day visit in Sri Lanka, over 360 crew of USS Lake Erie is expected to engage in a number of post relief mission in flood and landslide affected regions in the country.
Accordingly, several training engagements and HA/DR drills are scheduled to be executed in a bid to withstand a disaster situation. The ship is due to set sail from the Colombo harbor on 25th June, on completion of a series of post relief missions.