Navy Soft Power Stuck in the Mud
War is Boring’s David Axe reports that the USS Austin had some difficulties performing her soft-power mission in Africa:
The crew and mission staff aboard the Austin-class amphibious ship Nashville(pictured), commissioned in 1970, were in for a surprise when the 570-foot vessel approached the tiny port in Libreville, the bustling capital of Gabon, in West Africa. Despite earlier assurances from Navy planners and local officials, it turned out that the waters around Libreville’s Port Mole weren’t deep enough for the 17,000-ton-displacement Nashville. While the ship draws only 23 feet, fully loaded, she needs extra clearance for her pumps to draw in the seawater required by her old-fashioned steam power-plant. Nashville simply would’t fit at Libreville.
That discovery put a wrench in carefully laid plans for the Navy’s second, roughly annual “Africa Partnership Station” deployment, calling at Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe.
I am going to use USN logic here and see if we can find a solution. Now, if the 17,000 ton Austin wouldn’t fit into shallow waters, what could we replace her with…gaint supercarrier, 10,000 ton destroyer, nuclear attack submarine? Since my head is starting to hurt, I will go with my gut and say something like this:
I imagine by retiring 40 yeaq-old Austin, with the savings in annual maintenance alone we could lease another one of these excellent and very handy auxiliaries.