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Looking out the windows of his flight bridge high above the Navy aircraft 
carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson, Rear Adm. Ted Branch watched large black H53 and 
smaller gray Seahawk helicopters lining up on his deck Friday afternoon. Rotors roaring, 
every chopper was set to hop the few miles to Port-au-Prince and deliver 
desperately needed relief supplies to the millions of victims of the 
earthquake that hit Haiti this week. Problem is, there still wasn’t much 
else in the way of emergency aid to airlift back into Port-au-Prince by 
mid-afternoon, three days into the emergency. “We have a lot of lift out 
there,” Branch says. “But not much relief supplies to offer.” (See TIME’s exclusive photos of the Haiti earthquake.)

When the carrier got word to head to Haiti hours after the massive Jan. 12 earthquake, it had hundreds of cases of water and Gatorade on board. The helicopters ferried those, along with some medical supplies, to the island nation soon after arriving offshore before dawn Friday. The Vinson also helped Medevac a U.S. citizen, who’d had his leg aputated after being crushed by a collapsed hotel in Port-au-Prince, to the ship’s doctors.

Friday was the first real day of large-scale coordinated relief 
efforts for Port-au-Prince, where there is an initial estimate of 50,000 
dead and millions more living without water, food, fuel and medical 
resources. It’s the worst humanitarian disaster to ever hit the western 
hemisphere’s poorest country, making quick delivery of relief supplies all 
the more urgent. But the helicopters and forklifts aboard the Vinson, the 
U.S.’s central relief platform since it arrived off Haiti’s coast just 
before dawn Friday, are still waiting for an appreciable flow of aid they 
can carry across Port-au-Prince Bay, where the 3,000-man carrier is slowly 
circling. “The biggest challenge is getting the supplies here so we can get 
them out the population,” says Branch. The campaign, he laments, “hasn’t 
come as far it could have come at this point.”

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Article courtesy of: Time