Tuesday, August 02, 2022

How Many Fireboats Can You Buy for $1.2 Billion?

As we go through today's post, I'd like everyone to keep in mind an intangible that impacts not just our Navy in the eyes of the people we serve, but our government as a whole that our Navy is part of: most of our major naval bases are located in the heart of heavily populated urban areas.

The Tidewater Area around Norfolk, VA;

And on the West Coast, San Diego;

For good and bad, what our Navy does impacts the millions of people who are our neighbors, family, and friends who live cheek-to-jowl with the fleet.

When things go wrong, they are downwind.

There is the former USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) burning two years ago and drenching the San Diego with at least two decades of trial lawyer cases.

Do you see it? See that little boat in the bottom right hand corner? That's the subject of today's post.

As one is getting used to, our friends over at gCaptain are bringing up important issues no one else is.

In this case something many assume the Navy has covered but doesn't; fireboats.

Over the past few decades, the United States Navy has increasingly abandoned the unsexy working ships it once mastered and deployed around the world. Previously, the Navy had a large fleet of salvage tugs, but now they only have two, and only two Hospital Ships, two Submarine Tenders, and two Ocean Tugs. Some ship classes have been scrapped altogether including Fireboats or, as the Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro inaccurately called them in a letter to congress, “fire boats.” 

The Unsexy-but-Important™ strike again. This isn't some fancy, surplus, radical idea that only a military might do.

“Modern fireboats are impressive and so essential to protecting ships that Long Beach purchased them even though the next city north, Los Angeles, already had a state-of-the-art fireboat, and even though the construction cost for the two boats exceeded $50 million,” we wrote in July of last year. “Long Beach is not alone. Nearly every large commercial harbor worldwide now has state-of-the-art fireboats on duty, but the world’s largest US Naval Bases doesn’t own a single one.”

Our Admiralty keeps untold thousands of admin personnel burning countless hours processing North Korean levels of medal citations and inventing a new uniform every other POM cycle ... but ... I guess everyone must have priorities.

In the official report attached to Del Toro’s letter to Congress, the Navy states. “We assess that the lack of dedicated fire boats did not have an appreciable effect on the BHR incident or loss of this ship. And, in fact, waterborne firefighting capability, readily available on Navy tug boats, was brought to bear in this incident and has been formally accepted into Navy installation emergency response plans. The Navy does not intend to request or pursue dedicated fire boats at this time.”

As you may have guessed, John Konrad is about to drop a nuke;

The 600 words are not accurate. It contains blatant lies.

“And, in fact, waterborne firefighting capability,” says the report, “Readily available on Navy tug boats, was brought to bear in this incident.”

But Navy tugboats were neither readily available nor used in the BHR fire. Nothing was “brought to bear” in the critical early stage of the fire. Two hours into the incident, civilian captains aboard commercial tugboats owned by a private company, begged to help fight the fire but instead, the Navy brought in laughably small police boats with tiny water cannons built to fight small fires on recreational boats, not 844′ warships.

Read it all and figure out that when you need 50,000, SECNAV is happy to make you think 900 is adequate.

Either you are being lied to, or people are lying to the SECNAV.

As the Bonnie Dick is cut in to tiny pieces, place your bets.

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