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Navy Talks Disaster Planning With Local Officials During L.A.'s First Fleet Week

Three warships are arriving at the Port of Los Angeles Tuesday and Thursday for L.A.'s first-ever "Fleet Week." Besides the usual tours, Navy officials will be talking with local officials about how the Third Fleet might help Los Angeles in the case of a huge natural disaster.

"The Navy could respond with an amphibious ship," Navy Commander Ryan Perry tells KPCC. "With an amphibious ship you have hospital beds, medical facilities. You have the ability to make water and transport it to an affected area."

Southern Californians will get a chance to see such a ship up close during Fleet Week — the USS America, a massive amphibious assault ship.

Local, state and federal officials will meet with top officers from the Third Fleet Wednesday to brainstorm other ways they could work together in a disaster scenario.

Based in San Diego, the Third Fleet commands all U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel along the West Coast. Besides deploying ships like the USS America, the Navy could send in helicopters, cargo planes and medical personnel to assist the city's first responders.

Approximately 80 local and federal civilian officials with backgrounds in emergency management, law enforcement, homeland security, medical care and other fields will team up with about 20 Navy officers and sailors for Wednesday's "tabletop" disaster scenario.

A spokesman for L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti declined to comment on what the scenario will be, stating that planners want to keep it a secret until Wednesday so those involved in the exercise won't find out beforehand.

Naval officials have held similar meetings recently in Seattle and Portland, and they plan to do the same at upcoming Fleet Weeks in San Francisco and San Diego.

Along with the USS America, the guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer is scheduled to dock in L.A. on Tuesday. The Coast Guard Cutter Active is expected on Thursday.

Visitors will find the ships docked next to the USS Iowa Museum in San Pedro.

Twenty-minute tours begin Friday and run through Labor Day weekend. Online tickets are gone; the Navy says there will be some tickets handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Veterans and Military Issues Reporter