WASHINGTON — A U.S. Navy carrier and other ships steamed toward the Philippines on Tuesday as military officials said the effort could expand when the extent of the typhoon damage is fully assessed.
There are currently about 250 Marines and other service personnel on the ground, supported by five KC-130 transport aircraft and four tilt-rotor Ospreys, according to the Pentagon.
The carrier, the USS George Washington, is expected to arrive in the region sometime Wednesday. It is accompanied by two cruisers and a destroyer, the Pentagon said. A supply ship is already heading toward the region and will link up with the carrier group.
The carrier, which has 5,000 sailors and 80 aircraft, can produce potable water and can use its aircraft to ferry people and supplies.
The Marines said they have already distributed 107,000 pounds of relief supplies, including water, food, shelter and medical supplies.
Typhoon Haiyan hit the island Friday with winds exceeding 150 mph and caused extensive damage.
"The Department of Defense is continuing to work closely with the Department of State and the Philippine government to determine what, if any, additional assets may be required," Pentagon press secretary George Little said.
The Pentagon is also considering dispatching amphibious ships to the region, which are capable of delivering supplies to shore and can dispatch smaller boats to assist in maritime rescue.
Some officials anticipate the needs will expand as officials get a clearer picture of the damage. A team from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade is in the Philippines assessing requirements.
A senior Marine official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said he anticipated the number of Marines on the ground there could expand to 1,500 to 2,000 as relief needs expand.
The U.S. military only provides resources after getting a request from the Philippine government. It is typical to route requests through a host government during relief operations.
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