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Amphibious U.S. ships to aid in Philippine typhoon relief

By Susanna Capelouto, CNN
November 18, 2013 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. Navy says two amphibious ships are to arrive Wednesday in the Philippines
  • 900 Marines are on board to help with relief
  • Navy spokesman says aircraft carrier USS George Washington is likely to leave the Philippines

(CNN) -- The USS George Washington is expected to leave the Philippines once two amphibious ships arrive there Wednesday, Navy officials say.

The USS Ashland and the USS Germantown can get closer to the storm-ravaged areas than the massive aircraft carrier, and they have a variety of helicopters, small boats, trucks, equipment to produce potable water and other supplies needed in the relief effort.

"They are the Swiss army knife of the U.S. military," Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, who is in charge of the U.S. military relief efforts, told CNN last week after he requested the ships from the Pentagon.

The two ships picked up 900 Marines in Okinawa to aid in the relief efforts. A third ship, the USS Freedom, is also carrying supplies from Singapore, the Navy said.

The George Washington was one of the first in the U.S. fleet to bring large-scale help to Filipinos after Typhoon Haiyan left death, destruction and hundreds of thousands of survivors without food and water.

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