Thursday, October 01, 2009

WESTPAC relief services

In an ongoing email thread about what we should do WRT nature gone wild (as she will do) in WESTPAC - and some ideas about INGRAHAM's lucky show in the neighborhood and what could be done in Indonesia (some good intentioned people, not me, proposing INGRAHAM could help there as well) - I had to play my role.

Skunk at the picnic.

It is a good chance to discuss a few items though. You WESTPAC Sailors know the math. Here is my skunk spray.
I would be first interested in the Navy's efforts ongoing in Somoa with the INGRAHAM. You know, American Samoa, the folks with the USA passports. They have 150 dead I believe as of today, more to come I am sure. Once we do what we can there - then perhaps we can shift fire West to Indonesia.

Samoa is 2,250nm from Hawaii. 2,100nm from Brisbane and about 1,600nm from Aukland. As the P-3 flies (in two days with a strong tailwind), the INGRAHAM is 5,400nm from the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. I hope INGRAHAM has no plans to go there. Yokohama is "only" 3,100nm north of Sumartra. There are other options. The PACFLT AOR is huge - time distance is a bear.

INGRAHAM's story is American Samoa. I agree with SJS that we should leave the CO alone. He has a huge weight on his shoulders.

What this does show, if we wanted to pick around another aspect of this - is how our limited set of tools does not set us up well to do worldwide humanitarian missions.

When your only "heavy" capable airfield is out and you are days or weeks away from something such as a hospital ship (depending on where it is stationed) and are at the mercy of luck (INGRAHAM was just in the neighborhood) - you are in a lot of trouble when hit like this.

What tools would help? Well the only answers are what we don't have. Up through the Vietnam war, we still had large capacity cargo amphibians. The Japanese did until the last 90s doing SAR and patrol for their Coast Guard, I believe. The only ones left are in museums or fighting fires. All new construction is smaller amphibians.

Not just for this mission, but for other Strategic Lift answers for remote location are, of course, Lighter Than Air cargo airships. More flexible than an aircraft - faster than a ship. When you have over 2,500 miles to go somewhere with no airstrip; there you go. Even if you had a ship that could respond immediately, keep 25 kts SOA, and take the great circle route - that is still four days and change from 2,500.

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