How will Albany Marines respond to Japan crisis?
Japan is still reeling from last week's devastating earthquake. As fears of more earthquakes and further disasters grow, local Marines prepare to respond.
Military officials say they have accounted for all personnel stationed at the U.S. Marine base in Okinawa, Japan. But they're still waiting to see if those same Marines have the supplies they need to deal with that nation's continuing crisis.
Rescue efforts intensified Monday as humanitarian support from the U.S. and other nations poured into Japan.
"We have the Ronald Reagan closing on Japan right now," said U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. "We're sending another amphibious ship, a big deck, the Essex. We're pulling in helicopters from around the region, including Okinawa, and so on so those two ships can be used for helicopter operations in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief."
Some estimates place the death toll near 10,000 with more than 3,000 confirmed missing and more than 450,000 people living in shelters. Relief supplies would normally come from the U.S. Humanitarian Assistance warehouse in Okinawa but the situation on the ground remains uncertain.
Bill Lane is director of the MCLB Albany's HAP warehouse and says the base is ready to respond if the State Department call. "They're still looking at what the needs are," said Lane. "They have teams on the ground right now assessing. And we can only move once we get the word officially from them saying, 'okay, here's what we need.' "
The HAP warehouse at MCLB Albany is the largest in the world. It houses enough supplies to set up a small town in a very short amount of time when â" and if â" it becomes necessary.
"What we're doing is pre-staging materials that they requested, such as blankets, mattresses, firefighting equipment," said Lane.
It's Japan's inquiry about using two fire trucks â" that may need to be airlifted in â" that Lane finds troubling. "That's unusual for a country like Japan so it's a lot of damage. That does give us an indication that some help's going to be needed from the outside," he added.
The situation is changing minute-by-minute and officials with MCLB say they will let us know when and if they get the order to start moving supplies to Japan.