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San Jose is a vital part of operation Unified Assistance.

USNS San Jose (T-AFS 7) has been a key element in Operation Unified Assistance, providing life-saving humanitarian assistance/ disaster relief (HA/DR) material to the hundreds of thousands of victims of the tsunami that devastated large coastal portions of South Asia on December 26, 2004. Staying true to the ship's motto "San Jose knows the way," she was at the forefront of Operation Unified Assistance from beginning to end.

San Jose got the call to steam toward South Asia while on a Christmas port visit to Sasebo, Japan. Making best speed throughout the long transit, she arrived on station off the coast of Sumatra on Jan. 4, 2005. For the next three months, San Jose tirelessly carried out her mission as a sea base for HA/DR material and a key logistical link for the Abe Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, as well as the Bohomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, which was later relieved by the USS Essex and USS Fort McHenry, San Jose even conducted replenishment-at-sea (RAS) with the French Frigate Georges Leygues and the Australian Amphib Kanimbula. San Jose was the last remaining T-AFS on station providing dedicated helicopter and supply support to the hospital ship USNS Mercy.

As a combat stores ship, San Jose was uniquely well suited for this mission. Over 2,000 pallets of provisions, mail, parts and other essential supplies were moved from San Jose's decks to sustain a fleet of ships that were involved with this operation. Another 700 plus pallets of HA/DR material consisting of food, water, medicines, and other health and comfort items donated by the U.S. public through Project Hand-Clasp were cross-decked to other ships for further transfer ashore, or taken directly ashore by San Jose's two MH-60 helicopters.

Additionally, over 200 sorties were flown to and from Banda Aceh and other coastal areas that were hit the hardest, transporting several hundred passengers consisting of aid distribution working party members, and Mercy medical teams and patients.

Throughout this long and arduous operation, the spirit of cooperation among the civilian mariners and military personnel aboard the San Jose was unprecedented! The crewmembers' dedication was readily evident in their eagerness to meet the long hours of loading stores in port and RAS events at sea, which often times went as long as 14 hours straight. CDR Tae Lee, Officer in Charge of San Jose, captured the sentiments of the entire crew when he said "although most of us did not get to see the people we were helping, we were nevertheless highly motivated because we realized that each HA/DR pallet coming off our deck provided a lifeline to those who were in desperate need ... and that in itself is reward enough."

Lieutenant Carrie Kimble, SC, USN USNS San Jose Public Affairs
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Title Annotation:HIGHLIGHTS
Author:Kimble, Carrie
Publication:Navy Supply Corps Newsletter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
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