Canada sending 4 ships
Prime Minister Paul Martin and David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, were dockside in Halifax Tuesday as four ships loaded with emergency supplies prepared to head for the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Prime Minister Paul Martin meets with crew members from the HMCS Athabaskan in Halifax Tuesday, prior to their departure for the hurricane-ravaged U.S. south
Three navy ships and a Canadian Coast Guard vessel are expected to reach Louisiana in about five days. They are being joined by several Sea King helicopters.
One thousand Canadian Forces and coast guard personnel are aboard. They're are bringing provisions including clean water, massive tents, cots, body bags, assault boats, lumber, pollution cleanup equipment, bug spray, and even diapers and baby wipes.
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Navy officials were not sure how long the mission will last. Planes will continue to replenish supplies once the ships are in waters off Louisiana.
Canadian navy divers have also been dispatched from Halifax and Esquimalt, B.C. They will help their U.S. counterparts clear navigational hazards such as loose barges and inspect New Orleans' damaged levees.
Although the current emphasis is on basic supplies, Canada could consider sending more sophisticated equipment, such as mobile hospitals.
The aid is coming from stockpiles set aside as part of the Canadian military's own disaster preparedness plans.