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  • US Navy Tsunami Relief Operations

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on January 3rd, 2005 (All posts by )

    “I’d much rather be doing this than fighting a war.” ~helicopter pilot Lt. Cmdr. William Whitsitt

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    12 Responses to “US Navy Tsunami Relief Operations”

    1. Anonymous Says:

      This is a repost of my comment to TM Lucas’ post on Libertarian Humanitarianism.

      Sometime in the next few days the USS Bonhomme Richard will arrive off the devastated coast of Sri Lanka, with the III Marine Expeditionary Force embarked. There is not an entity on the planet better equipped to deal with the emergency that these young Americans will face.

      Aid is poring into the region from around the world, from governments and from citizens. But there is one near insurmountable problem: logistics. The airports in Banda Aceh and Colombo are swamped with aid and might as well shut down, because supplies are moving off the airfields at a trickle.

      Bonhomme Richard and III MEF have 40 heavy lift helicopters, a flight deck that can handle seven of them at a time, and the maintenance facility to keep them operating. It has three air cushion vehicles that can carry 75 tons across the beach and inland. It has a large number of amphibious troop carriers able to move 5 tons of cargo across the sea to the people who need it. None of these vehicles rely on the port facilities that have been swept away by the tsunami.

      The ship has a state of the art surgical hospital equipped to deal with the mass casualties of high intensity combat. It is capable of deploying emergency medical services forward, under any conditions. It has a desalinization capability that can deliver hundreds of thousands of gallons of clean water to people who will die without it.

      The ship embarks more than 1800 Marines, bright, idealistic, strong, highly motivated and well disciplined. These young men are trained in humanitarian and disaster relief, because the force has long been tasked, via Congress, by the American people with the mission ahead of them.

      In the coming weeks the Marines and sailors of the Bonhomme Richard will save many tens of thousands of lives. They will do so with an efficiency that will far surpass the efforts of any of the dedicated relief workers in the region. They will do more good in Sri Lanka than they could possibly do in Iraq.

      Unless you act now, TM Lutas. There is still time. If you hustle, you can meet them on the beach, and explain to them that they should be in Iraq, killing and being killed, not in Sri Lanka saving lives. You can explain to them that, say, Wal-Mart is better suited to that mission.

      You can persuade the Marines that if the US government would only stop meddling in the market, why, Wal-Mart and MicroSoft and GE will outfit their own MEFs to cope with the need, guided of course by Adams invisible hand.

      Or, if you cant be bothered with a trip to the real world, maybe you can sit there at your computer, and puzzle out the difference between ideology and common sense.

    2. Jody Says:

      Oops. Didn’t mean to post anonymously. That was me, in the first comment.

    3. incognito Says:

      You gotta love Uncle Sam. Every time there is trouble or disaster somewhere, those grey helicopters come out of nowhere and give help.

    4. ginny Says:

      Probably everyone here is already checking in on Belmont Club & Diplomad – but if not, Diplomad is reporting from one of the tsunami-hit places and while generally cynical has much praise for the Australians and the American services. And Wretchard is doing depressing comparisons with 1984. (Both are on our link list.)

    5. Steve Says:

      Where’re the Oil Field Hands? Jody, are you seeing any operational cooperation in Sumatra with the region’s Oil-Field community?

      Mass- transportation over adverse terrestrial conditions is their specialty. They possess huge heavy lifting, excavation and mass transportation resources on site. And they are private corporate contributors with a history of of “dovetailing” well with American and Australian military operations.

      I wonder if they’re not already pitching in.

      Steve

    6. Bill Hight Says:

      This is not an “either-or” type of situation. Clearly the US chooses to both help victims of natural disasters such as tsunamis, and also help victims of mass murderers such as Saddamis. Tsunamis and Saddamis. Think of it as a full service military.

    7. Jane Says:

      Hi Michael, long time no see. Hope all is well. Regards.

    8. Lorien Hiteshew Says:

      I understand that this tsunami has affected the earth’s movement (my friend told me they read that somewhere). Is this true? That hardly seems likely.

    9. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Uh…hmmmm.

      Lori, I wouldn’t listen to that friend too closely if I were you. At least about waves and earthquakes and such.

      It’s sort of the other way around. Indonesia lies on the boder of a subduction zone. There’s a gigantic fault line that lies just off the coast of Sumatra, where one tectonic plate is diving beneath another.

      What happens is that tremendous pressure builds up between the plates, but there’s also a tremendous amount of friction between them that tends to keep them from being able to slide past each other. When the pressure gets high enough, the plates break free and suddenly slide. That’s an earthquake.

      When a giant hunk of plate material moves suddenly under water like that, it creates a shock wave under water. That wave of energy travels at high speeds (300-600 mph) under the water and can go really long distances. When the water suddenly gets shallow, like when it’s approaching a shoreline, the energy picks up huge amounts of water and sloshes onto shore. It’s just like when you move your hand underwater in the pool and push a wave of water out of the pool. By the way, people used to call the waves that resulted from these underwater earthquakes ‘tidal waves’, but since they have nothing to do with tides they’ve stopped calling them that. I’d guess that long ago people who experienced them thought it was like a gigantic tidal surge, so mabe that’s where the name came from.

      So your friend had it backwards, and then some. A movement in the earths crust caused the tsunami. Not the other way around.

    10. Lorien Hiteshew Says:

      …maybe they were partly true after all. Apparently, the earthquake sped up the Earth’s rotation. Interesting.

      Tsunami Sped up Earth’s Rotation

    11. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Very cool. Thanks.

    12. Sara Hiteshew Says:

      Very interesting indeed….umm what are we talking about? Just kidding! Hi Lori! Hi Michael/ Daddy :)