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More US Navy Crews Exposed to Radiation as Japan Relief Efforts Mount

USS Ronald Reagan is directed to Japan following a 8.9 earthquake and tsunami to render humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as directed, March 12, 2011

The U.S. Navy says several more U.S. military personnel flying relief missions into eastern Japan were exposed to low-level radiation Tuesday, as crews ramped up humanitarian flights into the quake and tsunami-battered region.

As a precaution, the U.S. Navy has redirected several of its ships to safer waters.

A navy spokesman, Ensign Joe Painter, told VOA the radiation readings were not expected to deter relief efforts by a naval task force positioned off Japan's eastern coast. The navy said Monday that 17 helicopter crew members had to be decontaminated after returning to the flight decks of the USS Ronald Reagan.

Painter, speaking Tuesday from the U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, said a three-ship amphibious group had been sent to join the task force which began ferrying food and medical supplies ashore on Monday. He said the task force is prepared to operate in the region until it is no longer needed.

The Navy says the Reagan task force flew 29 missions on Tuesday, delivering 17 tons of food, water and other relief supplies.

The Ronald Reagan also is serving as a refueling platform for Japanese Coast Guard helicopters, as well as those belonging to Japanese fire and police units.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.