On 26 December 2004, a massive earthquake close by Indonesia generated a tsunami of Biblical proportions, killing hundreds of thousands of people, leaving hundreds of thousands more without food, potable water, and shelter, and damaging or destroying virtually everything in its path-a broad swath of death and destruction bordering the Indian Ocean.
Almost immediately in the tsunami's wake, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN72) carrier strike group (CSO) and the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) expeditionary strike group (ESG) diverted and raced to the region, the vanguard of Operation Unified Assistance.
According to Capt. J. Scott Jones, U.S. Navy, Bonhomme Richard's commanding officer, helicopters began flying nearly round-the-clock relief missions, delivering food, water, and medical supplies to thousands of survivors. "We take ashore what they need, when they need it," he said at the time, noting also that Navy construction battalions-Seabees-and coalition forces were helping the Indonesian government reestablish infrastructure and critical civic functions. "This proves not just the combat power, but also the humanitarian power of our ships."
2004 Highlights. . .