U.S. Navy Repositions Fleet After Detecting Radiation In Air

Published Mar 14, 2011 10:12 AM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. 7th Fleet has temporarily repositioned its vessels and aircraft away from Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Plant, after radiation was detected in the air. Officials say the contamination in the air is the result of a radioactive plume released from the nearby Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

The fleet was operating at sea about 100 miles northeast of the power plant when helicopter crews, returning from a disaster relief mission, detected low levels of radiation on 17 air crew members. The radiation was removed from the seventeen by washing thoroughly with soap and water. An evaluation of the crew found no additional traces of radiation.

The U.S. Navy says the maximum levels of radiation that the 7th Fleet crew could have been exposed to are less that the radiation exposure received from a month of exposure to natural background radiation, like rocks, soil and the sun.

The U.S. 7th Fleet Ships and their aircraft have moved out of the downwind direction form the any and continue to assess the situation and check air contamination levels. The Navy says they remain committed to their mission to provide aid to victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The U.S. Navy has positioned U.S. Pacific Fleet ships in the Western Pacific offshore in areas most affected in Japan. Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan, USS Chancellorsville and USS Preble are among the vessels supplying aid too victims in Japan. The USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry, USS Germantown, USS Tortuga and the USS Blue Ridge have all been diverted to Japan to provide relief.