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Pacific Command Deploys USS Sampson to New Zealand to Aid in Earthquake Recovery

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2016 — The guided missile destroyer USS Sampson is rushing to New Zealand to help those affected by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck yesterday, U.S. Pacific Command officials said today.

Navy Adm. Harry Harris, the Pacom commander, said the ship carries two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters that will be invaluable at the scene.

The quake killed two and stranded thousands of residents and tourists on New Zealand’s South Island. The temblor also caused landslides that closed most roads and rail lines into the area.

Harris announced the deployment of the Sampson during the Defense One Summit Kickoff event here. He stressed the importance of U.S. military presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. “American presence matters, as shown yet again today: Our prayers go out to our friends in New Zealand as they deal with another devastating earthquake on the South Island,” Harris said. “But more than that, our help also goes out.”

The USS Sampson was slated to represent the U.S. Navy at the New Zealand International Naval Review later this week in Auckland. The event marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of New Zealand’s navy.

The ship joins a Navy P-3C Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft that has already deployed to New Zealand. The aircraft is based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)