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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Disasters, International, Military | 9 comments

Meet Operation ‘Sahayogi Haat’ (Missing U.S. Helicopter Update)

Nepal Operation Name
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Update on Missing Helicopter:

The Marine Corps Times reports that the missing U.S. military helicopter has been spotted north of the capital, “But it will take time to reach the site where it has been located in the Tamakoshi region north of the capital of Kathmandu.”

A U.S. military helicopter missing during an aid mission in Nepal reportedly has been spotted north of the capital, authorities said. But it will take time to reach the site where it has been located in the Tamakoshi region north of the capital of Kathmandu.
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The utility helicopter from Marine Light Attack Helicopter squadron 469 based at Camp Pendleton, California, was last seen after another helicopter in the area “picked up some [radio] chatter about a fuel problem,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

[…]

The helicopter was flying in the vicinity of Charikot, Nepal. The six Marines, along with two Nepalese army soldiers on board, had dropped off some relief supplies, including tarps and rice, at one location and then took off on route to a second drop spot when they lost contact, Warren said.
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The Nepalese Air Brigade reported the helicopter’s last known airborne location and three MV-22B Ospreys searched that area for 90 minutes, but were unable to find the aircraft. The air search was halted after dark and Nepalese soldiers were heading to the area on foot, Warren said.
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U.S. and Nepalese aircraft will resume aerial search procedures at daybreak, according to a news release.

[…]

A U.S. Air Force pararescue team “has rehearsed and is ready to execute if needed,” Warren said.
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The mountainous terrain makes the search very difficult.
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“If it set down, then it can’t get radio transmissions out because that means it’s on low ground surrounded by mountains. Essentially what we have right now is truly a missing helicopter. We simply don’t know its location,” Warren said.

Read more here.

Update III:

According to ABC News, three days ago, the Department of Defense shared a photo (below) from the same model helicopter near the same city during a surveillance mission.

Nepal missing heli

View from a USMC UH-1 helicopter over Charikot, Nepal, during a mission to survey the impact of the Nepal Earthquake

Breaking Update:

NBC News reports a U.S. Marine helicopter supporting earthquake relief in Nepal with eight people on board is missing:

The UH-1Y Huey with two Nepalese soldiers and six U.S. Marines on board disappeared over Charikot, Nepal, at about 10 p.m. local time (12:15 p.m. ET), said U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Army Maj. Dave Eastburn.
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Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the U.S. military is hopeful that the missing helicopter landed and is out of communication. A military official told NBC News there is “no indication that there was a crash” but “it is dark,” so they could not immediately confirm that.
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Eastburn said military personnel in Nepal were “responding to the emergency” and the incident was under investigation.
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Charikot was one of the villages hardest hit by a 7.3-magnitude quake on Tuesday.

Breaking Update:

The BBC has just reported that another major earthquake, magnitude 7.3 has struck eastern Nepal, just two weeks after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people.

The BBC:

The latest earthquake hit near the town of Namche Bazar, near Mount Everest.

The US Geological Survey said it had a magnitude of 7.3. An earthquake on 25 April, centred in western Nepal, had a magnitude of 7.8.

The latest tremor was felt as far away as the Indian capital Delhi, as well as Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

Strong tremors were felt in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, which was badly damaged in last month’s earthquake.

[…]

The epicentre of the latest earthquake was 83km (52 miles) east of Kathmandu, in a rural area close to the Chinese border.

It struck at a depth of 18.5km (11.5 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.

The 25 April quake was 15km (9.3 miles) deep. Shallower earthquakes are more likely to cause more damage at the surface.

Read more here

Original Post:

The Department of Defense has always taken the art, or science, of nicknaming its military operations — whether combat or humanitarian — seriously.

In 1975, the Joint Chiefs of Staff even established a computer system to “fully automate the maintenance and reconciliation of nicknames, code words, and exercise terms” — the science.

More recently the Pentagon has tried to come up with names “with an eye toward shaping domestic and international perceptions about the activities they describe” — the art.

The military could not have chosen a better name for the ongoing earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.

The U.S. Pacific Command has named the relief operation, led by Joint Task Force (JTF) 505, Operation “Sahayogi Haat,” which means “Helping Hand” in Nepali.

U.S. Marine aircraft survey Nepal earthquake damage, support USAID efforts

The view from a UH-1Y Huey shows the rubble of a home in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 4, 2015. The flight was part of a reconnaissance mission to survey the outlying areas of Nepal affected by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake, April 25. Marines, assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, provided the UH-1Y Huey to support Nepal’s government.

While the relief operation was just recently named, U.S. military relief efforts started immediately after the April 25 magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit this beautiful country.

Since then, a steady stream of personnel, supplies and aircraft have been arriving in Nepal and personnel of JTF 505 have been working with the government of Nepal to limit further loss of life and human suffering.

US Marines airlift relief supplies to Nepalese military

U.S. airmen and Nepalese service members dismount a pallet of humanitarian aid after an aircraft offload during Joint Task Force 505 humanitarian assistance and disaster relief at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 7, 2015. U.S. Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force came together with other services to provide unique capabilities to assist Nepal. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sara Medina

From a JTF 505 news release:

To date, JTF 505 in tandem with the U.S. Agency for International Development has delivered approximately 49.9 tons of relief supplies, transported 273 personnel and has conducted more than 68.9 hours of flight time throughout affected areas of Nepal.
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JTF 505 Forward consists of approximately 300 U.S. military personnel on the ground in Nepal currently supporting the multinational relief efforts.
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JTF 505 Main in Okinawa, Japan, and an Intermediate Staging Base in Thailand consist of approximately 590 U.S. military personnel.

Over the weekend, airmen with the 36th Contingency Response Group attached to JTF 505 and members of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal started working together to repair the Tribhuvan International Airport after it sustained damage following the earthquake and where subsequent frequent traffic of heavy relief aircraft further strained the runway.

Added photo:

Nepal, USAF combine efforts to conduct critical runway repairs

Members of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, along with the 36th Contingency Response Group Airmen who are attached to Joint Task Force-505, work together to repair the runway at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 10, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melissa B. White)

Nepalese and JTF 505 combine to deliver aid

A UH-1Y Venom, with the Joint Task Force 505, flies through a valley in the Sindhuli District, Nepal, May, 10, in order to deliver aid and relief supplies to remote areas of the Dolakha and Sindhuli Districts during Operation Sahayogi Haat. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Anderson)

U.S. Marine aircraft deliver critical supplies to Nepal

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Mackenzie Higgins guides a UH-1Y Huey for takeoff at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 5, 2015. Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 and Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 262 brought in supplies to Charikot, Nepal that will provide the Nepalese people with shelter after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck the country, April 25. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

U.S. Marine aircraft arrive in Kathmandu to support Nepal earthquake relief

U.S. Marines Lance Cpl. David H. Serrano, right, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Thomas, unload a UH-1Y Huey off of a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III onto Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 3, 2015. Marines brought a Huey, tools and equipment to support the Nepalese Government request for help following a magnitude-7.8 earthquake, April 25. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

All photos and captions: DoD