BATH, Maine — A Bath-built Arleigh Burke-class destroyer scheduled to be the first U.S. warship to visit New Zealand in decades has been diverted from a naval celebration in Auckland to assist in rescuing victims of a deadly earthquake in that country.

The USS Sampson, which launched at Bath Iron Works in 2007, was expected in Auckland Harbour this week to participate in celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

This historic visit was approved by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in October, marking the first visit of a U.S. warship since the country banned ships that were nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed in the 1980s. The U.S. has declined to say whether its ships are either, but Key said he had confidence the USS Sampson was neither.

Instead of joining the celebration, the Sampson and ships from four other countries in Auckland for the celebration are traveling to Kalikoura, on the east coast of the country’s southern island, near the epicenter of a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck Monday morning, killing at least two people and stranding more than 100 tourists, the New Zealand Herald reported.

“The USS Sampson, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, has departed from the Hauraki Gulf and is now on its way to Kaikoura, where it will deploy two MH60 helicopters to help as required,” New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee confirmed to the New Zealand Herald. “The U.S. has also offered a P-3 Orion for surveillance flights.”

Ships from Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore also are assisting with the recovery, according to the New Zealand Herald.