US Navy deploys destroyer for Tonga disaster relief effort
The US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Sampson is underway supporting the disaster relief efforts in Tonga following the volcanic eruption and tsunami in the country earlier this month.
Sampson, along with its embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, is positioned to conduct lifesaving actions in support of disaster relief efforts alongside agencies from partner nations led by Australia.
The explosion of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano on January 15 killed at least three people and sent tsunami waves rolling across the archipelago, damaging villages, resorts, and many buildings and knocking out communications for the nation of about 105,000 people.
Helicopters operating from Sampson have conducted aerial damage assessment and have dropped supplies to support the people of Tonga. The destroyer has also conducted a replenishment at sea with Royal New Zealand Navy oiler HMNZS Aotearoa and the ship and crew remain poised to provide lifesaving action as part of the relief efforts.