The U.S. military expeditiously moved in helicopters to assist with Japan’s earthquake and tsunami relief efforts following the March 11 disaster. Over the weekend of March 12, the Pentagon quickly mobilized “Operation Tomodachi” (friendship in Japanese). The carrier USS Ronald Reagan was positioned off the island of Honshu to act as a floating fuel station for Japanese rescue helicopters, and its escort ships are assisting in SAR efforts.
Helicopter carrier USS Tortuga, with its complement of USMC MH-53 heavy-lift helicopters, has been dispatched to the area. U.S. helicopters at bases in Okinawa have been forward-based to Honshu and quickly began flying food relief missions around the Sendai impact area. Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 deployed its CH-46E tandem-rotor helicopters to the Japanese mainland.