Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Ship Proposal

The Naval Institute Blog has an interesting proposal for re-purposing Navy ships that are planned to be decommissioned specifically for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. This would include partnership station and cooperation with NGOs.

There are some issues that come up. The Navy ships, frequently get used, because they are already in the area. How many repurposed NA/DR ships can you have and where will they be stationed? If they are Navy manned won’t their still be suspicions about their purpose? These are really big ships, there are lots of places they can’t go because of their draft.

After Katrina, Haiti, and now Japan, I can’t help but think the CG is part of the solution. If nothing else a container hosting capability on the Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) and some “hospital ship” and “disaster command post” modules in storage.

 

25 thoughts on “Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Ship Proposal

  1. I think it would be a good idea for the United states to have a Joint services Rescue and humanitarian ship. a Joint services Rescue and Humanitarian ship would be good for Humanitarian and rescue missions. It can include disaster response, medical Aid missions and rescues after a disaster. I think to share the cost and personnel, you have to include a broad range of organizations such as the US Coast Guard, US Public Health Services Commissioned Corp, Military Sealift command, FEMA’s USAR teams, PHS’s DMAT teams, DHS and etc. Ship crewing can come from a mix of Navy, US Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command

    I would take used Tarawa class amphibious assault ship and convert them to a Joint services Rescue and Humanitarian ship. Out fit them to have docking capability to dock with US Coast Guard Cutters and other naval ships. Even buy a smaller Amphibious Assault ship such as the Mistral class amphibious assault ship or the Dokdo class amphibious assault ship and used them as JSS ships

  2. In addition to all the NGOs and GOs, there should be an international law enforcement team assigned. You’d be surprised what people bring with them.

    I was aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) when she evacuated Sierra Leone. The number of guns, knives, drugs and other contraband items was staggering. You think the Customs can do a search of luggage. You all should have seen this.

  3. It is indeed an interesting proposal. Who is going to pay for it?

    The author of this proposal evidently hasn’t come to grips with the fact that we can no longer fund “nice to have” assets. We live in a present and immediate future where we don’t have the money to maintain the multi-mission warships we need to protect our country. Keeping an expensive naval vessel in commission for the sole purpose of being part of the ‘global force for good” is simply insane.

    • Great point. Although the armchair strategists who blog things like this with no sense of reality related to budget realities do provide good entertainment. Note the author doesn’t even try and address how/why MERCY and COMFORT somehow are insufficient HA/DR platforms either.

    • @Anonymouse,
      I think if were going to get a JSS ship for Rescue and humanitarian missions. I believe the best way is to share the cost around with agencies that use the JSS. That’s why I think that if the US is going to get a JSS ship, I believe that the cost should be shared equally with those who use and man the JSS ship such as US Coast Guard, US Public Health Services Commissioned Corp, US dept of health and Human services, Military Sealift command, FEMA’s USAR teams, PHS’s DMAT teams, DHS, Us Customs, and etc.

      As for manning and crewing issues, I believe that during times that the JSS is not in use, it should be manned by a skeleton crew from CIVMAR and from the Military SeaLift command. that would put the ship on standby and in a state of readiness when called upon. During a Disaster and humanitarian crisis, it can be surged with a crew mixed with Navy, Coast Guard and a host of organizations such as the US Public Health Services Commissioned Corp, Medical Reserve Corps, National Medical Response Team, FEMA’s USAR teams, PHS’s DMAT teams, DHS and the Us Customs.

      As for what ship I believe that can best serve as a Joint services rescue and humanitarian ship. I believe a used Tarawa class amphibious assault ship would be a good idea and you can re purpose a used Tarawa class amphibious assault ship into a Disaster and humanitarian rescue ship. If we can’t get a used Tarawa class amphibious assault ship, then I believe a Mistral class amphibious assault ship or the Dokdo class amphibious assault ship would make a good disaster and humanitarian response ship.

  4. I believe an example of the cost of maintaining ship purely for humanitarian reasons may be found in the reuse of the former Navy Hospital Ship Sanctuary.

    The government supported German hospital ship HELGOLAND used in Vietnam for the care of children was also removed. Helgoland was useful to us. The enemy would warn her of upcoming rocket attacks and she got underway and anchored in Da Nang Bay. When we saw her depart we know a rocket attack was coming.

    A large scale operation would go the same way as Sanctuary and Helgoland.

  5. While there is obviously a need for a ship to support HA/DR missions, there is NO need to use former warships which are expensive to operate and maintain. AND there is little need for them to be crewed by military personnel. Using civilian crews to operate commercial construction vessel can work quite well.

    Nicky one cannot flip ships back and forth from naval to CIVMARs crews easily. AND prepositioning ships have been in and out of FOS/ROS Full Operating Status/Reduced Operating Status for DECADES specifically because that can be done as since they are “In Service” and it can be done easily with civilian marine crews.

    There is a distinction between crew and other than crew which is made on USCG documented vessels. And there are military detachments on many USNS ships which perfrom the specialized functions and not considered crew. So for instance there is a CIVMAR crew of a T-AH in ROS under 30 with larger MTF det onboard until the ship is called to FOS when both go to full complement.

    While buying new ships is a nice idea, I seriously doubt the USN SCN budget will see something like that in it for cost reasons. Converting an existing naval auxiliary or sealift ship is much more affordable.

    Besides the USN suffers greatly from NIH syndrome~

      • The Medical Treatment Facility on both T-AHs are separate tenant commands headed by naval officers. The MTF on many naval bases are operated similarly

    • What about using a used Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off Ship or even the Bob Hope Class Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On Roll-Off Ships and converting them to Humanitarian and disaster response ship.

      • @LANTAREA Deskdriver,
        Simple, Split the cost evenly among the agencies such as the US Public Health Services Commissioned Corp, Medical Reserve Corps, National Medical Response Team, FEMA’s USAR teams, PHS’s DMAT teams, DHS and the Us Customs.

      • The US govt does not work that way!
        And we can use the ships we already have in our inventory such as those in the RRF

      • Lee, I’m trying to recall and old conversation, didn’t you say at one time that containerized hospital modules already exist?

      • Also Chuck, Don’t we have an existing naval auxiliary or sealift ship that we can convert to a Humanitarian and Disaster response ship that is much more affordable and easy to convert. I know we have existing Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On Roll-Off Ships in the Military Sealift Command fleet that we can reuse and convert.

        I also believe that you said that somewhere on the blog that you said that containerized hospital modules exist somewhere.

      • If we only have a few ships with this capability there is always the probability that they won’t be in the right place at the right time. Even with 6 ships, that would normally mean only one ship in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

        Aside from the expense, I don’t think the plan is flexible enough.

        I would also think that some of the prepositioned force supply ships would include things that would be useful for disaster relief such as water, food and medical facilities.

      • You’re kidding, right? there is no way Congress would ever appropriate funds in that fashion.

        Part of the reason Maritime Domain Awareness can’t get out of the starting blocks is that every involved agency needs to ask for MDA appropriations, and so far OMB hasn’t directed each agency to make such a request. Even if every department did so, there is little change Congress would go along.

      • @Anonymouse,
        We do have ships currently in the Military Sealift Command such as the Bob Hope Class Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On Roll-Off Ships or the Watson class vehicle cargo ship that we can reuse as Humanitarian and disaster response ships. We don’t have to take an old warship and trying to convert it to a Humanitarian or Disaster Response ships. We simply take a ship from the Military Sealift Command’s currently building such as Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On Roll-Off Ships and re purpose them as Disaster response humanitarian ships

        As for funding issues, I think it seems fair because you split the cost between agencies that would use the JSS ships and make it equally fair. Much like the practices of the business world.

      • You might think it “fair” to split the costs between agencies, but it will never happen.

      • And where does the money come from in our budget for our sharw of the costs? Which OPFACs do you rob billets from to man our share of the personnel?

        Put down the crack pipe and step away from the keyboard.

      • an unbeliveably expensive waste of money and specailized ships!!!
        HA/DR ships do a) not have to be huge beasts, b) should never be based on warship designs, c) could probably be based on sealift ship designs but not the $250 -#300 million monstrosity which LMSR are!

      • @leesea,
        That’s why I believe the best way to get a Humanitarian and Disaster response ship is get one from the Military Sealift command such as the Bob Hope T-AKR 300 – class, Shughart T-AKR 295 – class,Gordon T-AKR 296 – class, or the Watson T-AKR 310 – class. I think a Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On Roll-Off Ship can be reconfigured to operate as a disaster and humanitarian response vessel.

  6. yes MSC can provide ships for HA/DR missions. Look at what was sent to Haiti. But the platform you are looking at is far outside the needs and besides there are NO extra LMSRs. Go look at RRF ships first. Go look at Chinese PLAN hosptial ships in service. You might go even further and look at NIMSF adn NDRF ships?

    To be more specific, HA/DR ships most importantly need to carry cargo rapidly to an area. LMSR only fill th SOA part of that. T-MMS as I call them must be able to get in close to shore for their connector to be effective. LMSRs are far too big. T-MMS need flight decks, boat davits and crews to operate them. LMSR have pros/cons it that area.

    Unfortunately MSC just put off-charter three fine HA/DR ships, the Maersk MPS. The Navy was not interested in keeping them around even to haul cargo. They have been sold foreign and reflagged out of US.

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