SAN DIEGO (CNS/CBS 8) - A San Diego-based cruiser is one of six U.S. Navy ships en route to the central Philippines Tuesday to assist with relief efforts following a powerful typhoon that killed thousands.
The guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens had been on a port visit in Hong Kong, along with other vessels of the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group. Crew members were recalled to their ships on Monday.
The flotilla also includes the USS Antietam, a ship once based in San Diego but now homeported in Japan. Over 5,000 sailors are expected to arrive in the Philippines within the next 48 hours.
The USS Cowpens also provided aid during the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.
Once the ships arrive in the Philippines it will began a major humanitarian relief effort that's expected to last weeks.
Typhoon Haiyan roared through the Philippines on Friday, devastating several islands including Leyte, made famous by sea and land battles during World War II. Its capital, Tacloban, was particularly hard-hit.
U.S. Marines based in Okinawa have already landed in the damaged areas. The Navy vessels are expected to arrive in a couple of days.
A Pentagon statement said the "ships and aircraft will be able to provide humanitarian assistance, supplies and medical care in support of the ongoing efforts led by the government and military of the Republic of the Philippines."
The Defense Department was also working with the Philippine government to determine whether other U.S. military assets were needed.
San Diego-based International Relief Teams announced Sunday that it is working with partners in the Philippines to provide aid.
IRT is working with Asia America Initiative, One World Institute, International Pharmaceutical Inc. Foundation and Health Futures International to provide clean water and water purification tablets, rice and canned fish to devastated communities, including Bohol, in the Pacific island nation.
The organization is accepting donations online at www.irteams.org and by mail at 4560 Alvarado Canyon Rd, #2G, San Diego, Ca., 92120.
The San Diego chapter of the Salvation Army said Monday that relief efforts were underway by Salvation Army International Teams. The Salvation Army has four centers on Leyte, so personnel have been providing food, water, shelter, and emotional and spiritual care.
Donations to the Salvation Army can be made online at www.sandiego.salvationarmy.org, by calling 1-800-SALARMY (725-2769) or texting Typhoon to 80888 -- reply Yes to confirm the donation.