USS Reagan joins Japan relief effort amid threat of radiation
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego-based Navy ships continued their relief efforts Monday off the earthquake- and tsunami-stricken northern coast of Japan's main island of Honshu.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan repositioned itself on Sunday so it would no longer be downwind of radiation releases at troubled nuclear plants.
The commanding officer, Capt. Thom Burke, wrote on the ship's Facebook page that very low levels of radioactivity were found on 17 sailors, all of whom were treated.
“We promptly took the proper precautions and the radioactivity was easily removed by using soap and water,” Burke wrote. “The levels that were detected were very low levels.”
The captain wrote that the safety of the crew was his top priority.
The Reagan is refueling Japanese military aircraft involved in relief efforts and using its own airplanes to distribute supplies, according to a Navy officer who did not wish to be identified.
Relief efforts by the aircraft carrier are focused north of Sendai, the city of 1 million located close to the epicenter.
The cruiser USS Chancellorsville and destroyer USS Preble, also based in San Diego, are in the region near the Reagan.
According to the Preble's Facebook page, Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Sellerberg, the executive officer, shared with the crew reports from pilots of the devastation in the areas affected by the earthquake and resulting tsunami, prompting sailors to donate extra food, clothing and blankets to the relief effort.
A half-dozen ships stationed at U.S. naval bases in Japan are also taking part in relief efforts, and four others, including the formerly San Diego-based dock landing ship USS Germantown, are on the way, according to the Navy's Seventh Fleet.