Two MV-22 Ospreys tilt-rotor aircraft from Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 162 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, launched from USS Nassau to conduct an aerial reconnaissance of population centers and infrastructures in northern Haiti Jan. 24. This is the first time the Ospreys are used in a humanitarian aid or disaster relief missions, demonstrating the flexibility and expediency of the newest aircraft to join the Marine Corps' aviation arsenal. 24th MEU and Nassau Amphibious Ready Group work together to gain more awareness of the current situation on the ground in remote areas that haven't had U.S. military presence. The 24th MEU is among the most versatile military units in the world and stands ready to perform a full spectrum of missions ranging from humanitarian relief to full-scale combat operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alex C. Sauceda)
The Marines say they have finished loading the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard Navy ships and are headed across the Atlantic Ocean on an eight-month deployment.
The ships will patrol the Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, which include parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Among other things, the Marines will participate in an exercise with Moroccan forces.
The Marines said Friday they spent the past several days loading the ships of the Virginia-based Iwo Jima Amphibious Readiness Group off the coast of North Carolina. The Marine unit is based at Camp Lejeune.
The ships of the amphibious readiness group are the USS Iwo Jima, USS Gunston Hall and USS New York.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)