Wasp departed Norfolk Aug. 30 to replace USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in Sasebo, Japan as the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in region.
While still in the initial phase of its transit, the ship diverted to the Caribbean Sept. 4 to assist the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica in the wake of Hurricane Irma and then provided assistance to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm regarded as the worst natural disaster in the history of the island American commonwealth.
In support of relief efforts, Wasp aircraft flew 108 missions on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico totaling 385 hours of flight time moving 1,129 total passengers along with 26,720 pounds of equipment and 1,718,200 pounds of various logistical support items, including 328,100 pounds of food and water.
Once detached from relief efforts in late October, Wasp resumed her transit to 7th Fleet, briefly stopping in Rio de Janeiro and then transiting the Strait of Magellan as it crossed from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean. Wasp made a port visit to Joint Naval Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii in time to bring in the New Year ashore. She departed Jan. 2 to continue the journey toward Sasebo.
During the transit toward Japan, Wasp and her crew have engaged in a near-constant cycle of training to ensure they are ready to meet the wide-spanning missions of 7th Fleet. The crew has actively completed drills in damage control, combat systems, aviation, and casualty response. This training has been interspersed with such professional and personal development training such as suicide prevention, cultural appreciation and career management.
Seventh Fleet, which celebrates its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet's area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50% of the world's population with between 5070 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 Sailors in the 7th Fleet.