May 8, 2008 / 9:50 PM / 11 years ago

FACTBOX-US moves planes, ships nearer to stricken Myanmar

May 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department is moving ships and planes laden with humanitarian supplies and personnel closer to Myanmar to assist the storm-stricken country, should Yangon agree to U.S. help, officials said on Thursday.

Following is a list of what Pentagon officials describe as assets available for use in disaster relief:

* Four U.S. Navy ships including the destroyer USS Mustin and the three-vessel Essex Expeditionary Strike Group, which carries some 1,800 Marines, steamed toward the Myanmar coast on Thursday from the Gulf of Thailand after participating in international exercises that included humanitarian drills. The three amphibious ships specialize in moving people and equipment quickly onto shore. The journey was expected to take about five days.

* The USS Essex, the group’s main ship, sent some of its helicopters and Marines to an undisclosed location in Thailand to prepare for possible humanitarian operations in Myanmar.

* The Essex group, which also includes the amphibious vessels USS Juneau and USS Harpers Ferry, is equipped with a total of 23 helicopters, 19 of which are capable of air lift operations.

* Pentagon officials said other Navy assets in the region include the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge, the USS Kitty Hawk Strike Group and the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

* One Air Force C-17 Globemaster transport plane with supplies including water purification systems and military meals-ready-to-eat landed on Thursday at an airport near the southern Thailand city of Utaphao.

* Two Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft also landed near Utaphao on Thursday with 46 military personnel, whose job it would be to set up an airstrip inside Myanmar for subsequent humanitarian airlift operations; a third C-130 was reported to be on its way to the same location. (Reporting by David Morgan in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech)

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