By Dialogo March 26, 2010 The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and embarked Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed their support to Operation Unified Response and depart Haiti on March 25th. U.S. Southern Command released the Bataan and its embarked Sailors and Marines following a steady decline in demand for the capabilities of the ship and its crew as relief efforts in the Caribbean nation transitioned from urgent life-saving activities to long-term recovery. Bataan arrived in Haiti Jan. 18 and immediately began supporting U.S. relief efforts led by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). Within 48 hours of arriving, helicopter and landing craft from Bataan transported 23 patients with serious earthquake-related injuries to the ship, where they were stabilized and treated before being transferred to follow-on care facilities to begin their long-term recovery. During its two months on station, rotary-wing aircraft from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the MEU flew 2,200 missions to aid communities affected by the earthquake, delivering nearly 560,000 liters of bottled water, 200,000 gallons of bulk water, 1.6 million pounds of rations and 15,000 pounds of medical supplies. Helicopters and air cushion landing craft (LCAC) from the ship evacuated 97 patients to the ship’s medical facilities and transported another 524 patients to and from the hospital ship USNS Comfort, aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and to medical facilities throughout Port-au-Prince. Bataan’s crew also assisted residents in the town of Grand Goave, removing 150 tons of rubble, building 65 shelters for 130 families and distributing more than 500,000 meals. “The Marines and Sailors of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and the MEU have once again demonstrated how their speed, flexibility and training can be called upon to help save lives,” said Maj. Gen. Cornell A. Wilson, Jr., commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South. “They brought food, water, medical aid, and hope to the people of Haiti in some of the most devastated parts of the country at a time when getting help into Haiti was extremely challenging.” To date, the U.S. government has contributed more than $779 million in earthquake response funding for Haiti.