(USA TODAY) -- The USS George Washington aircraft carrier arrived in the PhilippinesThursday to boost international efforts to bring aid and relief to thepeople of the typhoon-devastated region, many of whom have been withoutmuch food and clean water for six days.
The ship is part of theU.S. Navy's 7th Fleet and is accompanied by seven other ships that makeup the George Washington Strike Group. The aircraft carrier has a crewof 5,500 and brings with it 21 helicopters, which can be used to ferrygoods to hard-to-reach areas where people have seen no aid since typhoonHaiyan hit Friday.
The group "will go to a position just off theeastern coast of Samar island in order to begin to assess the damage andprovide logistical and emergency support to include medical and watersupplies," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, GWSG, in astatement.
The U.S. has so far pledged $20 million in emergencyshelter, food, water and other supplies to the Philippines and theDefense Department's Pacific Command is assisting the U.S. Agency forInternational Development distribute the supplies.
Dozens of countries have offered millions in aid. The United Nations is targeting a figure of $301 million.
OnThursday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country wouldsend 1,000 troops from the nation's Self-Defense Forces, what he called"Japan's largest relief dispatch in history."
Britain is sending the HMS Illustrious aircraft carrier to the region in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
ButChina, an economic powerhouse closer to the stricken islands than themajor nations already helping out, has pledged less than $2 million incash and the estimated worth of some materials. That's less than the$2.7 million that Swedish furniture chain Ikea has pledged, according tothe Associated Press.
Beijing, which touts its status as theworld's second-largest economy, has been in a dispute with thePhilippines over ocean territory that Beijing claims it owns.Essentially, China says the entire South China Sea belongs to it, eventhe waters surrounding the Philippine coastlines that are thousands ofmiles from China's mainland coast.