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.