300 Ship Navy Falters in Haiti Relief
Sounding like a broken record, no matter how exquisite and capable modern naval ships are, they can’t magically reproduce themselves, being in more than one place. The current disaster relief operations ongoing off Haiti is a case in point. The Christian Science Monitor asks the pertinent question “Why is it taking so long for Pentagon aid to reach Haiti?”:
The aircraft carrier arriving Friday has three operating rooms, several dozen hospital beds and can produce fresh water. The Bataan amphibious ship also possesses some medical assets and is being outfitted with more. But it is the Comfort hospital ship, with its 250 hospital beds and 12 operating rooms, that would appear to meet the most pressing need in Haiti…
Pentagon officials say that ship, one of the Navy’s two hospital ships, won’t leave Baltimore until this weekend and not arrive until sometime at the end of next week. “It’s a slow moving vessel, it’s an older vessel, so it will take about a week to get down there once it gets all crewed up,” said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman…
“None of this will seem quick enough if you have a loved one who’s trapped, if you’re sleeping on the streets, if you can’t feed your children,” Obama said. “But it’s important that everybody in Haiti understand, at this very moment, one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history is moving towards Haiti.”
The Navy today, half the size from as recently as the late 1980s is the smallest its been in a century. Through the past several decades, the Navy has built an all-high tech force, extremely capable for shooting down ballistic missiles, for striking deep inland against defended targets, or detecting deep diving nuclear submarines. Still it is stretched with numerous functions in a new century, mostly contending with low tech insurgents who lack any of the weaponry required of a space age battlefleet.
In such a scenario, with the sea teaming with numerous threats, a large fleet of small warships would be ideal, and also more capable for inshore relief operations of the kind faced in Haiti. While the service is building a few shallow water types, the Littoral Combat and the Joint High Speed Vessel, the bulk of funds still go to giant warships like aircraft carriers and amphibious ships, built to face off the now rusting Russian Navy, or what the Chinese Navy is rumored to become in the next decade or two.
Once the giant carriers and the Gator Navy finally arrive, we’ve no doubt they will perform marvelously, though will still need shallow water vessels and helicopters to ferry relief back and forth to shore. First they have to get there, and it seems those designing multimission warships, with the idea that 1 vessel replaces 4, didn’t take into account the need for numbers and availability.
We can’t help but think squadrons of smaller warships, often maligned for their lack of capabilities, would be ideal for the type of relief needed to respond quickly, and numerous enough to arrive in time to help. Not perfect warships, with every advance known to man added on, but a Ford on hand is worth 2 Ferrari’s in drydock. These are the type of warships we need to prepare us for any eventually, saving lives, there when called upon. Not just battles with future high tech navies, stretched thin and two few.