Thursday, August 06, 2020

Mini Hospital Ships and Influence Squadrons

The end of July brought us this little nugget that I have not pulled out of draft yet;
Republican senators want to include $2.2 billion for Navy shipbuilding in the latest round of relief funds meant to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the text of the bill, lawmakers would allot $1.45 billion of that money so the service could buy four “expeditionary medical ships.”

The proposed funds for medical vessels come after the Navy dispatched its two hospital ships, USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), earlier this year to aid in pandemic relief efforts. Austal USA, which builds the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) vessels in Mobile, Ala., has evaluated the potential to use the EPF hull for missions like hospital ships.
Here and over on Midrats we've asked for more hospital ship and for more "unsexy but important."

From both a manning and utility point of view - there is a whole lot of potential for presence, public relations, and info ops with these vessels inline with Jerry Hendrix's "Influence Squadrons" concept from the previous decade.

It is as correct now as it was then. Many of the naysayers when it comes to hospital ships touch on the fact our existing hospital ships are hard to man, have obsolete engineering plants, etc, etc.

These are smaller, more flexible, easier to ... well ... as VADM Merz said more professionally;
“The problem with those [hospital] ships is, there’s only two of them, and they’re big, and we’re moving to a more distributed maritime operations construct,” Merz explained at the April 2018 hearing. “There’s no lack of commitment [to this medical capability]; matter of fact, we’re taking a broader look at the capabilities on whether or not they are aligned with the way we plan to fight our future battles. So you’re going to see that requirement surface probably this year, and then we’ll start the process on how we’re going to fill that requirement.”
I think we should at least experiment with a variation of Jerry Hendrix's influence squadrons with these at the core.

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