CARIBBEAN SEA (NNS) — Rear Adm. Cedric Pringle transferred command of Joint Task Force-Matthew (JTF-Matthew) to Rear Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2, Oct. 16.

JTF-Matthew is the Department of Defense task force providing support to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-led relief operations in Haiti following the deadly hurricane.

During a visit to amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) by the Honorable Peter F. Mulrean, U.S. ambassador to Haiti, and Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander, U.S. Southern Command Oct. 15, Tidd spoke to the Sailors and Marines who have been leading the military humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission.

“It’s a pleasure to be out here with you and to welcome you to JTF-Matthew,” said Tidd. “I can’t tell you how proud I am to be able to look out on the horizon and a see a U.S. Navy warship exercise the kind of mission this type of ship was designed to be able to support.”

During the announcement over the ship’s loudspeaker system, Tidd also discussed the importance of the task at hand for the Sailors and Marines aboard.

“You are bringing life-saving support and providing that unique capability that the U.S. military brings to the table; you are able to deploy assistance very rapidly, allowing time for the relief organizations to put the pieces in place and take over,” said Tidd. “Thank you very much for the hard work. Thank you for the selflessness that you bring to this life saving-mission. Know and tell your families that you are making a difference in the lives of people who really need our help, and you are sealing the bonds of friendship and support between the United States and the people of Haiti.”

The capabilities of the ESG-2-led JTF including Iwo Jima, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Seabees from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, components of Naval Beach Group 2, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 and the Fleet Surgical Team embarked, make the JTF uniquely suited to support the delivery and distribution of much-needed relief supplies, as well as transport humanitarian assistance personnel in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.

“It’s really an unsung capability our naval amphibious forces provide to our nation,” said Kitchener. “The same capabilities that make these units effective in combat operations also make them very effective delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. I’m very proud of what the joint task force is accomplishing here in Haiti on behalf of the American people.”

USAID is the lead U.S. government agency for foreign disaster assistance and is working with JTF-Matthew to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the people of Haiti following Hurricane Matthew at the request of the Haitian government.