Two days ago the USS McFaul (DDG-74) passed through the Bosporus en-route to Georgia to deliver relief aid.
However, it’s a slightly under-whelming and bizarre effort that isn’t fooling anybody. To make it sound good, the ship is reported as carrying 155,000 pounds of stores. This is 77.5 US short tons or 69.3 metric tonnes which doesn’t sound too impressive when shared among the tens of thousands of displaced persons.
In fact, this cargo would fit on only four standard Hercules transport airplanes!
In short, it’s a piddling little destroyer sent to fly the flag and remind Georgia, Russia and the world that the USA can access all areas.
A truly meaningful relief response would have been a cargo ship like the Rosen here, capable of carrying 1800 tonnes which has already done similar work.
A better one would have been a proper fast cargo carrier with shallow draft to enable on shore deliveries anywhere and thus reduce road travel. (The destroyer needs to be unloaded offshore by a floating crane!). Such a craft exists – the USA has one. The HSV-2 Swift.
This Tasmanian built craft draws a draft of 3.4m, can travel at over 50mph, has a range of over 4000 miles and can carry 615 tonnes!
A similar ship did such work for the Australian Navy to help the situation in Timor. The HMAS Jervis Bay (AKR 45) (quoting the Wikipedia article);
Jervis Bay was commissioned primarily to serve as a fast sea link for Australian troops between Darwin and Dili in East Timor, during operation of the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce. The ship was capable of sailing the 430 nautical miles (800 km) in approximately 11 hours, at an average speed of approximately 45 knots, far faster than vessels of comparable size and role of the US Navy in the region. During the two years of the ship’s charter by the RAN, Jervis Bay made 107 trips between Darwin and East Timor, shipping 20,000 passengers, 430 vehicles and 5,600 tonnes of freight, becoming known as the “Dili Express”.
This was a truly remarkable achievement and saved the lives of thousands in what was fast becoming another genocidal bloodbath.
The ship is now on the Dover to Boulonge cross channel route as SpeedOne. It’s a flying machine. I can’t recommend the type enough.
This March (2008) I went on a similar Incat machine for a day trip from Plymouth to Roscoff in France. I thought the trip would be cancelled because of the weather, a breaking swell and cross-wind coming up the Channel).
But it just went a bit slower and the thing was steered between the biggest waves! Truly an ocean going catamaran.
Postscript July 2009:
Since Speedferries went bust, LD Lines thought the idea so good that they’ve stuck an even bigger vessel of the same type on the same route…
Postscript October 2009:
In what is essentially a friendship visit, the HSV-2 showed what it can do by pulling up in Gambia last month with 16 pallets of aid. Given the potential payload of the vessel, I hope that they were BIG pallets with lots and lots of useful stuff. See link here and link here.