HMS Illustrious packed with stores for Philippines relief mission

Is this an effective use of military assets?

Would a simple civilian charter be more effective and less costly?

Hand loading and stacking pallets by hand?

Before anyone gets outraged, this is not in any way to denigrate the effort and even a small amount of aid twenty days after the event is still of value and you cannot fail to be impressed by the effort.

But consider the effort involved and then think about how many 20 foot containers worth of stores we are talking about, it’s less than 30

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WiseApe
November 23, 2013 10:50 am

Agree with TD on this one. We could have airlifted this lot to a nearby airfield ( there is ALWAYS a nearby airfield available, remember) then put it on a more suitable ship; something with it’s own cranes, ramps, hell even a dock perhaps.

Still, well done all making the best of it.

Edit: RN should now be all over the media making the case for a couple of part-DfID funded LHDs. :-)

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
November 23, 2013 11:19 am

I suppose there are other advantages to sending her.
She’s got a big crew who can do lots of helpful things other than hump supplies around.
Helicopters.
I assume she has some sort of desalination plant too.

wf
wf
November 23, 2013 11:28 am

@TD: I agree with you, but as Arundel says, it’s the floating airfield with helicopters which makes the big difference here. Something which can support other people’s operations too.

Observer
Observer
November 23, 2013 11:30 am

Think that was what they did TD, tapped into commercial sources instead of flying the food in from the UK though. Since the food is flown/shipped/trucked into the area daily, you are shipping it commercially, though not with a government charter but tapping into the day to day traffic.

As for hand loading and trucking, it’s because the Illustrious isn’t a dedicated grain carrier. If it was simply a grain carrier, they could have used a grain conveyer and sucked or poured grain direct into the holds. Of course if they did that, the crew would be swimming in rice and with the little problem of packaging and distribution at the other end :)

Observer
Observer
November 23, 2013 12:00 pm

Just had a disturbing thought. Don’t you need water to cook rice? And isn’t water one of the critically short items in a disaster area? So are we shipping in food that requires a quantity of “unobtainium” just to be edible?

Waylander
Waylander
November 23, 2013 12:03 pm

HMS Daring has been helping small isolated island communities like: Guintacan, Canas, Calagnaan, Tulunanaan & Binuluangan. Illustrious will do the same but on a much larger scale. A civilian charter would have no way of getting the aid ashore to such small islands, and would not have 1000 RN, RMs & army personnel on board that can help the communities start to rebuild and get back on their feet. Illustrious will also be carrying a lot of equipment and can provide 450,000 litres of potable water in 24 hrs.

mike
mike
November 23, 2013 12:09 pm

Agreed TD, but she brings pros and cons.

I think it was more a case of her being the closest and most available naval asset to send.

Sugarboat
Sugarboat
November 23, 2013 12:26 pm

Reminds me of 1970 when in RFA Resource we were diverted from A.S. exercises of Freemantle (so glad we were sick of changing course in high seas for A.S. pattern searches) to go to Singapore to load Singapore’s purchased relief supplies for the floods at Chittagong, loaded 500tons in 24hours (we had the MHE) steamed to area and cross-deck to Sir ships who took relief stores upriver for relief. When Lusty gets there it will be her helo’s that give major benefit also I hope it may cause UK government to reconsider her future?

x
x
November 23, 2013 12:39 pm

@ Sugarboat

Do you know if the LSL’s beached?

Rocket Banana
November 23, 2013 12:40 pm

Okay, it’s a little late in coming but what exactly do they need?

Broken ports and broken cranes unable to lift containers and now usable roads to transport the containers to somewhere where no-one can take the container off the back of the HGV?

or

Helicopter lifted supplies and manpower in the form of 4.2. Commando to distribute aid to the doors of those in need along with a water and power production plant that could keep Swindon supplied?

Mark
Mark
November 23, 2013 12:43 pm

Well I’m sure illustrious will do a gd job particularly here crew. I don’t know what shelf life rice ect has but I would have hoped the shelter generators what’re containers ect could have been pre packed in an ISO in DFID stores somewhere. You could then crane the isos on to what ever ships or aircraft there embarked on and then broken down by the crew during transit or when it gets to the airhead. Save the labour intensive packing and increase the response time.

Personally provision of this type of relief response should be I think included in the MARs support ship design. Would be useful in the Caribbean and when one is I am sure deployed eos. I’m think helo factilities some form of enhanced medical or engineer capability and I’m sure it would have the best facility to accept and break down ISO stores given its main role.

I think the whole disaster relief, emergency evacuation and combat sar capability needs examination and much better joined up planning and prep with political decision making than has been shown up till now. As TD has shown in the concept 1 port series we have most of the equipment already or with kit on order just needs minimal spend and more focus, perhaps a gd first area for fwd engagement.

Sugarboat
Sugarboat
November 23, 2013 1:05 pm

X NOVEMBER – Sorry I do not.

x
x
November 23, 2013 1:14 pm

@ Sugerboat

Thanks. :)

Sugarboat
Sugarboat
November 23, 2013 1:37 pm

X NOVEMBER –
From the below it was Sir Galahad:-
http://www.naval-review.co.uk/issues/1971-2.pdf
EAST PAKISTAN RELIEF-
OPERATION ‘BURLAP’
The part played by the British Forces in providing relief and assistance to those thousands who had suffered from the devastation caused by the cyclone in East Pakistan in November was marked by its scope, speed and efficiency. Their effort was in two main spheres – the organisation, despatch and operation of a ship-borne task force and a continuing airlift of relief supplies.
Between November 19th and 20th a number of powered assault boats and Gemini craft,
dories and glass fibre landing craft with cms were flown from Singapore and the UK by the
Royal Air Force to the devastated areas in the Ganges delta. An advance reconnaissance
of food, bedding, clothing, medical supplies and 70 vehicles and trailers ranging from
bulldozers to landrovers. They were also able to provide additional fresh water and a wide
range of other capabilities as required. HMS Hydra (survey ship), also a unit of the task
force, was diverted to the area and arrived ahead of it to survey and mark new navigational channels in the shallow and difficult Ganges delta for the landing craft operating from the task forces’ anchorage some 25 miles off the mouth of the river. Immediately after the arrival of the naval task force under the command or Commodore D. W. Napper, MBE, RN, its Wessex helicopter
copters from 847 Naval Air Squadron were airborne and its smaller craft headed inshore
to start the relief operations. A shore-based headquarters had already been established at
Habitual by the advance party with 750 tons of stores and it was from here that the Services
effort in getting relief ‘effectively and quickly to the stricken areas by land, air and water
transport was co-ordinated. From the start of the operation the sailors, marines and soldiers of the British Relief Force worked virtually non-stop ashore, afloat and in the air. The helicopters of 847 NAS were ferrying stores and key personnel to the various supply centres which had been established as distribution points and the mixed crews of the LCM’s and smaller craft plied their way up and down numerous waterways moving food and other supplies to the more remote parts of
the devastated areas. Royal Engineers sank new wells and carried out a great deal of recon- struction work. The Royal Air Force main tained an airlift of very large quantities of relief and medical stores from Singapore to Dacca and the port of Chittagong. At the latter town an air-head was set up as the main re-supply point for the task force which increased the scope and the efficiency of the relief effort. The RFA Sir Galahad operated a supply service between the port and the task force and the RFAs Resource, Olwen and Stromness also carried out replenishments at
the anchorage.
By the end of November the operation had gathered considerable momentum and there was no place in the area covered by the British effort which had not received aid or it was not on the way. The Pakistani authorities had also expanded their own aid programme by this time and many local small1 craft were operating in the disaster area and large stocks of relief stores were available at the various distribution points.

I truly thought there was more than one SIR involved, I remember the large bags of rice we had never seen such large bags nor I should the size of the beasties that came out of them we kept them in the SEASLUG deck which spanned 4.2, 5.2, 6.2 and 7.2 holds so as not to contaminate other holds with the beasties.

x
x
November 23, 2013 4:02 pm

@ Sugerboat

Thanks again. Interesting to see how the LSL was used. Does it point I wonder to a capability gap between the Bay and the LCU Mk10? Could we justify a class of ship for intra- theatre communications? Interesting stuff……

Challenger
Challenger
November 23, 2013 4:21 pm

@Mark

‘Personally provision of this type of relief response should be I think included in the MARs support ship design’

Well the current concept designs for MARS SSS seem to show a 30,000+ ton solid stores vessel with hangar/flight-deck facilities for 2-3 medium helo’s, davits for small boats (or maybe landing craft) and other bits and bobs all which suggest that it would make a perfectly decently humanitarian aid ‘response’ platform.

The problem, as ever, is going to be having enough hulls in the water so they can actually be used for anything other than their primary duties. Current planning is for 3, but 1 more would offer a fantastic boost in capability across a whole range of areas. Not likely, but lets hope they don’t decide 3 is a luxury and the RFA will have to make do with just 2 in the next round of defence cuts.

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 23, 2013 5:59 pm

If we must spend money on DfID, then I would like to see a stock of storm proof, pre-fab, houses (on stilts) kept in stock, ready to be shipped (by RN or others) to a disaster zone.

Observer
Observer
November 23, 2013 6:45 pm

Storm-proof and prefab are usually contradictions, especially shipped, light weight pre-fab. Mixed concrete on site prefab might be a better solution if you can local source the material.

Nicky
Nicky
November 23, 2013 7:44 pm

That should be a wake up call for the Royal Navy to talk to America to make an offer to buy some America Class LHA in return for America buying into their Global Combat ship.

Sir Humphrey
November 23, 2013 10:09 pm

“That should be a wake up call for the Royal Navy to talk to America to make an offer to buy some America Class LHA in return for America buying into their Global Combat ship.”

Why on earth would the UK want to buy a class of ship that has no commonality with extant vessels or training or systems? There is a big difference between fantasy shopping lists and real effect.

This incident higlights the value of a forward base in Singapore, and also of the flexibility of maritime power. It is not going to change any procurement plans though.

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
November 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Disaster shelters is an area where container handling capabilities could make a difference. A container based shelter with some basic supplies in it and some legs to stand it on or something like that.

You can get a variety of folding/collapsible containers too. Some small enough to be put up by hand, others requiring lifting gear to unfold them. A shelter based on those would be more transportable but would lack any inbuilt fittings or the chance to fill them with supplies.

Designing for Disaster: Which is better, modular or shipping container?

Staxxon containers

Self assembly containers

With the Staxxon design if the containers were fastened together instead of separate I can imagine it being the basis for a large building that folds concertina style to something the size of a regular container.

Also with collapsible containers, if they were used in this HMS Illustrious situation they could be folded up to take up less space for the return journey.

Overseas
Overseas
November 23, 2013 11:52 pm

MoD exploiting a horrific humanitarian situation for PR. If they really wanted to actually do some good, rather than just create nice picture-caption scenarios, they really could have done.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 24, 2013 12:04 am

@ Overseas

That is an extremely sad view. If they save 1 life they prove you wrong.

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 24, 2013 12:36 am

ILLUSTRIOUS (seven helos) is intended to relieve DARING (single helo) which has been operating in remote typhoon-stricken areas since the 18th. DARING left the UK in May and ILLUSTRIOUS left in August but this is a typical ‘soft power-projecting’ emergency operation that deployed RN warships and their skilled and disciplined personnel are trained, equipped and, to a certain extent, stored to perform. Any additional costs are likely to be relatively small and recoverable from DFID whose annual budget is around £7 bn.

Glad to note that I’m not alone in being unenthusiastic about replacing any such versatile assets with one-trick ponies that can be procured or leased more easily (not to mention relatively quickly) from the commercial sector and modified as necessary if and when required.

Martin
Editor
November 24, 2013 7:10 am

a few points I good from the news

a lot of what Lusty is carrying are empty water containers and she will be using her desalination plant to provide water for those in need.

Much of the supplies loaded in singapore were bought locally but DFID had to fly in some specialist stuff from its forward stores in Africa.

seems pretty stupid that DFID keeps forward stores in africa and not the UK.

In terms of time we should remember that the Phillipines is pretty much as far away as one could get from the UK area of operation and the fact that we have a destroyer on hand inside a week and an aircraft carrier after 20 days not to mention a C17 and C130 just goes to show the UK ability to conduct soft power anywhere in the world. Contrast this with China or any other UNSC member located much closer.

I would really love to see an LHD repalcement for ocean and argus part funded by DFID with on board hospital and disaster relief capability but it’s never going to happen. I should say as well I think this would be in the DFID’s interest as well because both Labour and the Torries are lining up to slash its budget and is desperatly needs a project to capture the imagination of the UK public. People understand disaster relief and are happy to pay taxes towards it but I doubt most people understand the women only theme parks and girls schools in war zones.

Topman
Topman
November 24, 2013 10:05 am

@ Martin

‘seems pretty stupid that DFID keeps forward stores in africa and not the UK. ‘

Eh? Was that a mistype?

WiseApe
November 24, 2013 10:58 am

In related news ;-) Hermes is soldiering on until 2018. Who would have thought it.

http://www.indiastrategic.in/topstories2078_Indian_Navy_to_launch_indigenous_aircraft_carrier_Aug_12.htm

The UK armed forces are not International Rescue; just saying.

Mark
Mark
November 24, 2013 11:39 am

WiseApe

No but when Central government funds collected from taxes are used to administer overseas aid in what ever form, it should be the crowns airline and shipping company that deliver it. The armed forces are after all but a lever of government diplomacy and engagement.

Should such funds not be collected thru tax then giving to uk charities such as international rescue would a way for this kind of assistance.

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 24, 2013 12:04 pm

“…The UK armed forces are not International Rescue; just saying.”

– No, they are only part of it. They can do much more than that and it is their professionalism and versatility that help enable the UK to set such a positive example as one of the five members of the UN Security Council with the 6th or 7th largest GDP among the c.200 countries in the world. The ill-fated Philippines comes around 40th with a GDP less than one tenth of the UK’s but a population almost twice the size.

Martin
Editor
November 24, 2013 1:10 pm

@ Topman

not a mistype, Having stores forward deployed in Africa means they are difficult to use else where. DFID should keep its stores or atleast some of them near Brize Norton where they can be put on RAF transports for rapid deployment.

Waylander
Waylander
November 24, 2013 2:26 pm

RE America class

The QEs are LHAs, just 26,000 tons larger than the America class.

I think the planned air groups in each role are:

Routine deployment

12 -35Bs
4 AEW Crowsnest Merlins
6-8 ASW Merlns ?

“Warload”

24 F-35Bs
5 AEW Crowsnest Merlins
9 ASW Merlins

Amphibious assault /Littoral manoeuvre

12 F-35Bs
18 medium lift helos
6 Chinook heavy lift
6 – 8 Apache AH1s
AEW ?

or

12 F-35Bs
12 Chinooks heavy lift
Medium lift ?
8 Apaches AH1s

Obviously the QEs would never operate with an air wing of more than 36 F-35s (prob max 24), but the “full load” capacity of a QE class carrier is apparently 50 aircraft.

I just wondered what the maximum number of F-35s that could be crammed aboard a QE class would be, a bit fantasy fleet I know.

Apparently there is space for 20 F-35Bs in the hangar.
plus another 24 F-35Bs “chocked & chained” on the flight deck?
So 44 plus helos?

The maximum number of aircraft the Charles de Gaulle can carry is 40, so given that the CdeG is 42,000 tons and the QEs are 70,600 tons, for them to have a similar air wing seems a bit strange.

Or is the 40 figure for the French carrier including a lot of light Gazelle type helos?
As the QEs can apparently fit 48 Sea King medium sized helos just in the hangar deck.
So is the air wing for the QEs low, or the CdeG’s high?

Rocket Banana
November 24, 2013 3:30 pm

Seems you can “fit” 24 x F35B in the hangar of CVF (10 aft, 6 center, 8 forward).

You can certainly “fit” the same again (plus) on deck along with some AEW Merlin. How efficiently these can be moved around and operated, however, is a different matter.

It appears to me that you become reliant on having aircraft in the air when you get to this overloaded condition.

Mark
Mark
November 24, 2013 4:29 pm

Martin

“The Department for International Development (DfID) says the UK has two hubs which hold stockpiles of kit which are “vital” to the UK’s humanitarian effort and can be deployed at very short notice.

One is in Kemble, in Gloucestershire.

The other is thousands of miles away from UK soil in Dubai.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24954605

Simon/wayland small problem there we will run out of aircraft by the time the hangers full!

Observer
Observer
November 24, 2013 5:13 pm

Martin, “forward deployed in the UK” is a contradiction in terms :)

As for American landing ships, they took a design pathway that is rather unique compared to the rest of the world. I would hesitate to call it a mistake, but it has a few flaws, one of which is the LC capacity. They went down the LCAC route at the expense of displacement hull landing craft. A landing ship of non-American origin would be carrying 2-4 times the number of LCs with an increase in cargo transfer capacity. Americans tend to have a technophilic bent, so going LCAC was expected of them, but it may not have been the best idea. Of course, the LCAC’s speed looked good in an assault plan, but practically? I’m not sure if it was the best idea.

TD, AD Garath, I agree that those would be useful, Just throwing a weather anchor windward just in case someone decided to recommend knock down homes in the vein of knock down furniture. Those will fly with a good wind. :)

Rocket Banana
November 24, 2013 6:41 pm

…small problem there we will run out of aircraft by the time the hangers full!

And reality comes crashing down :-)

leesea
leesea
November 24, 2013 8:12 pm

Disaster Relief is an equation made up of following elements: First responders both in the from of BOG and NGOs along with the VERY important connectors helos/landing craft, along with thousands of tons of relief aid which must be moved ashore and inland. While Illustrious and the George Washington obviously had the former, they are NOT cargo carriers and hence the amphib play a better part in the equation. But as some have pointed out, when the naval ships depart there should be in place chatered or specialized sealift ships like the USN MPS to take up the missions.
BTW the USN T-AKE class have a significant water making capability and IF the USNS VADM Wheeler is brought over there then is a means to get it ashore in vast quantities.
In any case, the Tyranny of Tonnage applies

Observer
Observer
November 24, 2013 8:34 pm

leesea, actually NGOs have the least ability to move fast, I’ll class NGOs as the 2nd phase of the op, recovery. The first phase, immediate response and stabilization, is more a military speciality. NGOs are much much better than the military in the long term, but the short term, the military has a very pronounced advantage of pre-mobilized forces.

Overseas
Overseas
November 24, 2013 9:56 pm

@ Apats

You don’t think the political benefits have been weighed up when making this decision? I would have thought it was quite obvious. Simply another arm of the same game.

@ Thread in general

Chartering ships, as has been mentioned, would have been the way to go.

martin
Editor
November 25, 2013 12:55 pm

@ Observer

good point the Uk is not forward deployed for DFID stores but you know what I mean.

@ Mark – I am just quotting what lusty’s Commander said on BBC news.

Phil
November 25, 2013 7:00 pm

So overall, great effort but let’s not think it is something that it isn’t

Shit you just summed up my existence.

Waylander
Waylander
November 25, 2013 7:53 pm

The RN is the main player in the area they are operating eg the small remote islands that have not received help from anyone else. The RN seems to be doing it’s own thing, rather than being a small part of the larger US operation.
That said I would be interested to know want assets other nations have deployed (other than the US), the UK has sent 2 C-17s, a C-130, a destroyer, a helicopter carrier plus chartered flights, that seems like quite a significant contribution, especially when there are nations a lot closer that could be doing more.
I think the UK Gov has donated around £50 million as well. Not sure how many helos in total deployed with the US CBG, or based in the Philippines, but the US strike carrier only has around 20 helos aboard, so another 7-8 RN Sea Kings & Merlins will be a useful uplift in numbers. It’s a pity Illustrious was not deployed with a larger air group. Obviously no use for this type of operation, but I thought she sailed with 3-4 Apaches aboard for the Cougar 13/anti piracy operation off Somalia?

Waylander
Waylander
November 25, 2013 8:47 pm

Just thought would post this – Humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian_response_to_Typhoon_Haiyan

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 25, 2013 9:19 pm

Not sure if it has been mentioned but a lot of the issues in tje aftermath of this sort of event, stems from unrest.
You can have all the gucci civilian aid you like but most of it gets nowhere because the people distributing it cannot protect it or are scared to get out there and do so.

leesea
leesea
November 25, 2013 9:28 pm

Observer it is all about timing. I saw a number of NGOs get out to disaster zone (beyond the airheads and terminals) before the military. The military was flying in relief supplies quickly but getting that distributed seemed to be hung up in the local nations organizations? As we have seen before, the NGOs know how to “facilitate” those stovepipes to a certain degree. And since the US helps bring in some NGOs, I counted them a First Responders also.

WiseApe
November 25, 2013 9:45 pm

@Waylander – This report from yesterday shows a mix of Lynx, Sea King and Merlins onboard:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-25085241

Observer
Observer
November 25, 2013 10:05 pm

Got a point on the timing leesea.

BTW, I know that you have some views on amphibs and served on them before, got a few ideas that I would like to bounce off you and see what you think.

1) The current LCs are actually a creature neither fish nor fowl, they are deployed from parent vessels normally, yet carry the capability of self sustaining operation similar to that of a fully fledged ship for a week. Is this excessive? Would performance be improved if the self sustainability was removed from the equation, leaving say enough fuel for 24hrs, removing the galley etc and transferring the need for sustainment to the parent vessel?

2) The current displacement hull of the boats are extremely slow. Would a change to waterjets and a semi-planning or even full planning hull be better? I know there would be a trade off in cargo carry weight, and that getting up to speed would be less efficient than a pure prop, just asking your impression if the higher speed and less resistance at the middle of the speed run, which is usually the longest part of the journey, would give better efficiency in fuel and transfer capacity.

3) This I know you agree. More LC spots on the parent ships, the current number of spots on US LHD/LPDs are insufficient.

What are your thoughts on these points?

Waylander
Waylander
November 25, 2013 11:42 pm

I remember seeing some pics on Navynews or the RN website of Illustrious with Apaches on her flight deck, I assumed they were taken during the Cougar 13 exercise as that’s what the article was about, but perhaps they were old pics from Cougar 12.
It seems Lusty was deployed with three AAC Lynx’s instead of Apaches, and three FAA Sea Kings.
The Merlin was apparently flown to Albania for a joint UK/Albanian exercise (Albanian Lion), then joined the carrier’s air group after.

Waylander
Waylander
November 26, 2013 12:18 am

There were Apaches aboard for Albanian Lion, as they are mentioned in this article http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/September/19/130919-Merlin-joins-Illustrious
So they must have been flown off, but surely they would have been more useful for the anti piracy operation off Somalia than the AAC Lynx’s? It seems a muddled way of deploying a carrier’s TAG.

Rocket Banana
November 26, 2013 8:29 am

I think Lusty’s nominal airgroup consists of 4 x SK Mk4, 3 x Lynx, 3 x Apache and a couple of SK ASaC7. The Merlin are usually on the escorts but would “flit” between ships depending on requirements.

However, with a hangar full of other goodies I’d expect most of these to be disembarked. The Apache are not much use for disaster relief so were probably left behind and will be picked up later.

Could someone elaborate on the company naming within 3Cdo? “J” company from 42? Thanks.

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 26, 2013 10:54 am

@TD

“This is an interesting story because I have to balance being a bit hard nosed and not wanting people to think I am knocking the UK in general and Royal Navy specifically. It seems any criticism, especially of the Royal Navy, is akin to clubbing a baby seal in the middle of Mothercare…

…the point remains that the UK/RAF/RN response is actually a fraction of the overall effort…

…So overall, great effort but let’s not think it is something that it isn’t.

– Even when you’re not knocking the Royal Navy, damning its achievements with faint praise is hardly a quantum leap. What else do you expect? ;-)

– Notwithstanding the huge regional military resources within the gift of the USA, Waylander’s Wiki ref indicates that the UK has made a significantly larger financial and physical contribution to relief efforts than any other country in the world.

– I know you don’t approve but PJHQ can respond to any sudden emergency by signalling the nearest warship(s):

“Cease operations forthwith. Proceed with all despatch to X and use all available resources, including embarked humanitarian aid and disaster relief packs, to render assistance where identified as most needed.”

– In the meantime, this doesn’t preclude DFID seeking out suitable commercial ships, negotiating terms, recruiting specialist personnel, acquiring the necessary stores and equipment, moving everything to the right place for embarkation and then deploying them where needed.

“The argument about lots of people can do lots of useful things is also not as strong as you might think because the number of people who can do productive work ashore is low and whilst the skillsets might be transferable, not all of them are. Every person in the area has to add value, this being a key lesson from the US in Haiti.”

– Once again you expose your ignorance of deployed RN warships and the training, skills and capabilities of their personnel. Apart from their inherent medical expertise and the transferable technical skills of marine engineers and weapons engineers they need for the shipborne operation and maintenance of high & low power electrical generation and distribution systems, communications, sanitation, fresh water production, domestic appliances, etc.), one of the most important attributes of service personnel is their military discipline and focus, irrespective of their specialisation. I know from personal experience that victims of such horrendous events tend to be too shocked and traumatised to help themselves. Even members of the civil authorities are affected owing to their loss of homes, belongings and, in many cases, close relatives. Often, there is the risk of civil disorder and the infrastructure of which you speak has broken down entirely, especially in remote, vulnerable areas.

– Incidentally, stored rice spoils when exposed to flooding and wells become polluted. I imagine the rice and clean water supplied by DARING and ILLUSTRIOUS to outlying areas are proving most welcome, as well as the means/repair of water purification, particularly when taking into account the damage sustained by the boats normally used for movement between the islands and the mainland.

– No one is suggesting that RN warships offer a comprehensive, long-term solution to such disasters. That is the job of the national and local authorities with the help of NGOs. However, RN warships offer versatility, instant readiness and speed of response of immense value in the initial stages of a relief operation and can provide hope to many victims who would otherwise be ignored, possibly until too late.

– Make no mistake. This is a potent example of the RN’s blue water capability to project soft power as well as the hard variety. That goes for the other services, too.

– Finally, spare a thought for the families of Lusty’s ship’s company members who will not now be reunited at Christmas. From all the evidence, they are all extremely proud of the humanitarian achievements of their loved ones and don’t begrudge their absence one iota.

tweckyspat
November 26, 2013 11:17 am

So overall, great effort but let’s not think it is something that it isn’t

I am totally with you on this on TD. In fact, I think you have been overly charitable towards the RN and its token effort.

Of all the capabilities the UK has, sending a T45 made least sense.

Humanitarian assistance needs 3 things: Get there quickly, bring large quantities of aid , provide key capabilities others don’t have (strat lift aircraft, helos, ro-pu water planst or well drillers, support to Concept 1 or 2 ship to shore, security of NGOs) Instead, we just sent whatever we had available in the “something must be done” category. Yes OK the helos on Lusty will be useful but not as useful as they would have been on Day 3.

If we want to do this seriously then we need to design a bespoke capability (even if limited). Regarding HA/DR as something a T45 and its crew can do when they are not busy training to be be the best warship possible simply doesn’t cut the mustard.

Edit

Dunservin: if this is the best RN soft power we can project (eg see previous photo of carrying plastic bottles of water ashore from a RIB) then we are truly screwed

As for Lusty’s crew being away for Christmas, unlucky. If we had a proper disaster relief capability they probably wouldn’t need to be away. As it is, we don’t, so we (apparently) have to send the ill suited CVH instead.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 26, 2013 12:44 pm

“If we want to do this seriously then we need to design a bespoke capability (even if limited). ”

No. The first thing we need to do is decide whether we want this to be a primary role of the armed forces and if so, either find additional resource to fund it, or cut something else to free up the bunce.

It would appear from the NSS, SDSR and supporting documents that we don’t want to do it as a primary role, but would prefer to retain the capability to assist in HA/DR as a by-product of the core military capability. That includes considering features in ship, aircraft and vehicle design that would be useful in such situations and where provision would not compromise the design or incur excessive cost, these features get incorportaed in the requirement and subsequent design. The relevant training is also included as an element of OST, which is not an insignificant cost. Not sure whether RAF and Perce include it in their designs and training packages – perhaps Topman and Phil could comment.

I’m not sure what the resentment from TD and Twecky is about. Given that “defence” is often perceived either as a bunch of poorly supported people fighting an unwinnable battle against Terry Taliban or as an organisation for wasting a colossal amount of money, one might have thought that good PR stories demonstrating that defence does actually help people worldwide would have been welcome. Of course the combined efforts of D32 and R06 plus the RAF C17 sorties and the C130 deployed are only scratching the surface, but at least they are scratching the surface and materially helping people. Those people will remember who helped them, which may or may not benefit the UK in the longer term. Governments in the region will also compare our response with that of others and perhaps behave accordingly. Tommy taxpayer may just shift his attention from a bunch of window-lickers in another jungle long enough to realise that the money spent in MoD is often useful, although I’m not holding out too much hope for that…….

The alternative is actually to do nothing, because funding some kind of “International Rescue”, particularly in the Pacific is not a UK priority. Given that the cost of deploying those ships is marginal and that the actual value that they bring is secure facilities for operating and maintaining the helicopters that will allow aid to be distributed, I can’t see what the problem with the RN being involved and the associated PR effort actually is, unless it’s because its being done this way rather than by Concept 1 or whatever.

You don’t need an armed force to operate TDs concept 1 in this environment – there’s lots of MHE and similar in the PacRim countries and lots of contractors to operate it. All you actually need is a functioning organisation that can identify needs and place contracts quickly, which ought to be an NGO or the Phillippines govt itself. We are providing humanitarian assistance, not trying to solve the whole problem ourselves.

As for UK capabilities making the least sense, I’d put SSN, Typhoon, Chally 2 and a raft of other stuff ahead of T45 on that list……..

tweckyspat
November 26, 2013 1:35 pm

NAB

You are right, there are a few things more useless we could have done, I should have been clearer.

I think where TD and I agree is that despite the fact these sort of tasks never appearing on the priority list, we keep on doing them because the political urge to “do something” always trumps whatever it was we did say our priorities were. And because we never have them on our priority list, we do them sub-optimally. Then we inevitably big them up in the media and make ourselves feel better about making a difference. What is so frustrating is that we could do so much more, for the same cost, if we weren’t so utterly tied into top-end platforms.

Our military support to DR in the Phillipines is not a humanitarian act, but a political gesture. That doesn’t make it bad necessarily but we should not get carried away and misjudge the cost/benefit. To say that it is worth it if even one life is saved is naiive. To say we can’t criticise simply because it is “our boys doing their bit” is also a dangerous idea IMHO. To say that our (tiny) contribution will generate wider goodwill and other intangible benefits is an imaginative stretch.

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 26, 2013 2:49 pm

@TD

“Nailing wriggly tin onto a roof

Break the bunting out
:-) ”

– You probably have little personal experience of such desperate situations but it’s a case of “Monkey see, monkey do.” See my previous remarks about the victims of such life-changing events tending to be too traumatised to help themselves; inertia sets in. Demonstrating the possible with simple, constructive acts like this can help snap them out of their lethargy to carry on the good work after the instigators have departed.

– Both you and I know that the RN’s morale-boosting contribution amounted to much more than mending a few roofs so what drives you to misinterpret and belittle its every achievement in such sarcastic fashion?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 26, 2013 3:05 pm

“What is so frustrating is that we could do so much more, for the same cost, if we weren’t so utterly tied into top-end platforms.”

Twecky – the floor is yours. Given that we’ve agreed that HADR is not high on the UK priorities and is unlikely to become so, what might we do (to, or instead of) our “top-end” platforms to get this much improved capability? And what do we sacrifice to get it, assuming that we won’t be getting any more bunce?

Observer
Observer
November 26, 2013 3:22 pm

Dun, pax, pax, he does not mean it insultingly, he’s just indirectly asking “Is there a better way?”

As an aside, what Dun said is true, a vast majority will end up in a form of shock or other, it’s literally their whole world and worldview getting destroyed. All they took for as stable, homes, family, friends, school, all literally vanishing. Can you imagine coming home from work one day and find your house and family missing with an empty lot where your house used to be? “WTF happened to my house and wife and kids!!” is the least reaction that could happen, then panic, then after days of useless searching, lethargy.

As for political goodwill, it does have an effect. Even now a decade after the 2004 tsunami, the people in northern Indonesia still remember that we were the first responders, which makes things a lot more cordial in discussions and talks. An interesting question would be: “Is there anything you want from the Philippines?” However, this is also not just related to the Philippines, it can also be used on other countries that have encountered a natural disaster. Your best effect is actually to be the first on the scene, makes you look more caring and competent than the local government. As an example, if southern Spain were to suffer a natural disaster and a contingent from Gibraltar was the first to respond, what would be the effect of Spanish opinion on the British presence there? At the minimum, it would make the Spanish government look slow and ineffectual, at best it would mean increased tolerance due to “at least they are useful, let us keep them around just in case.”

Now pray hard for an earthquake.

leesea
leesea
November 26, 2013 7:29 pm

@Observer, and managed sealift ships and been on LCS & JHSV~

1) LCS have a logistics concept which is tied to a base port. The amount of onboard spares and technicians is rather sparing already. the USN went to “optimum manning” for LCS and now has changed course. The LCS endurance depends on frequent visits by USN CLF ships. The addition of payload be that crew, spares, provisions, or the like to any high performance vessel most pointedly the LCS-1 class reduces its operating parameters. Add more, go less~
But of course, reduction in fuel load allows for more payload.

2) I am Not a navarch but have been told that LCS that high speed drove the hull choice and one which I and many would favor for the next-gen LCS. Cannot address propulsion vs. resistance variables.

3) Absolutely the LC spot shortage is acute and none of what I see the USN really fixes that. For instance, the SSC to replace the LCAVC is longer. One can only hope that the LSD-49 replacement aka LX(R) will be wider and/or longer~

dave haine
dave haine
November 26, 2013 8:54 pm

I must admit, without decrying the current effort, I do wonder whether the first load off the C17s, should have been a RE field engineer sqn and associated kit.

Having a T45 loom up, does at least get some supplies into the crisis zone, disciplined bodies that can help, and even basic medical help will make an enormous difference in that situation. As can engineers, if they’ve the right mental attitude they can get things done, or rig up something.

‘Illustrious’ i think is more sensible, with more helicopters, and more space to do stuff. Maybe a ‘Bay’ would have been more use, but when the s**t hits the fan, you rock up with what’s available, and do your best.

Still think an RE sqn would have been a good thing tho’

Opinion3
Opinion3
November 26, 2013 11:08 pm

Gifting aid is good PR, especially in desperate circumstances. For our Armed Forces to be getting the good PR makes absolute sense. Forward deploying is a great idea, but then you never really know where and when you need what. Singapore would be a good place, and I’d like to see us using their/our facilities more.

What is probably really lacking is the welldock and appropriate craft to transport to shore. The vessels are not really supply vessels either. This is why the MARS SSS design is so strong. Ideal for resupply and disaster whether in war or peace time.

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2013 12:15 am

leesea, Landing Craft (LC-) not Little Crappy.. er Littoral Cra.. er.. Littoral Combat Ship, should have been clearer. :P It’s a pity though, I thought the concept had promise.

The LCUs in the USN are currently prop driven displacement hulls, not planning nor waterjet, which makes sense if you are taking it slow, but maybe a ship in a faster mode of travel might be more efficient over distance.

Op3, land prices here are murderous, Dubai is a good compromise between land rental cost and access, unless you can package it as a co-operative venture between governments, then there might be a waiver of land rental, but you get another oar in the mix. Though honesty compels me to admit that the Singaporean government is less prone than most to go emo on you.

tweckyspat
November 27, 2013 9:20 am

TD; Thank you, eloquently said.

DunS: Where do I start”? If we had kept the other Bay class and some LCUs or Mexes that would have been a better maritime option, otherwise send any part of TD’s concept 1 EDPI and build a btter port for sending a RoRO too. Save oN C17 hours, and RN crew time. And none of this is specifically HADR; as TD pointed out in Concept 1 it is a coherent niche capability for all kinds of operations.

Observer: Even now a decade after the 2004 tsunami, the people in northern Indonesia still remember that we were the first responders, which makes things a lot more cordial in discussions and talks.

Really ? Given that all we sent were a few C17 loads and 2 Bell 212s to Aceh ? I would be very surprised. I was in Jakarta with the WFP at the time and even the British Ambassador admitted that UK PLC was not at all in the game,. I’d be interested to know how you gauge such impact from such minimal involvement. Now maybe in sri lanka where HMS CHatham and RFA Diligence were operating with the full might of UK MOD PR I can see that there may have been an enduring effect. But to say we (UK MOD) were at all ‘ first responders” in Indonesia is a stretch.

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.operations.mod.uk/garron/index.htm

tweckyspat
November 27, 2013 9:27 am

Dun

if you want a specific HADR capability (not sure you do) which generates effect beyond its size, have a look at the Canadian DART teams. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disaster_Assistance_Response_Team. yes similar capabilities exist in UK MOD ORBAT but ad hoc every time.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 27, 2013 9:32 am

“I must admit, without decrying the current effort, I do wonder whether the first load off the C17s, should have been a RE field engineer sqn and associated kit.”

Or indeed elements of 17P&M and the STRE, as per concept 1. I suspect part of the reason why not is that they don’t bring their own life support with them, so would actually spend a good chunk of their first response time (and associated airlift) sorting out shelter, comms, messing etc.

TD – I think the reaction you’ve had is largely to do with the somewhat dismissive tone accompanying the later comments. MoD is making the most from the PR op (and why wouldn’t you) and is also delivering as much effect as it can given the resources that can be got to theatre with our readiness profile and commitments. However, I don’t think anyone is claiming that they’re single-handedly saving the Philippinos.

Of course a civilian vessel charter would deliver more aid, but that’s not actually anything that requires the military to get involved at all, is it? DFID could quite happily organise the charter (and delivery of contracted MHE and labour) if it wanted to (and may well be doing), so no need for MoD to get involved. Still struggling to understand what it is the UK military could have done more effectively without tying up a significant chunk of (scarce) airlift for a significant chunk of time. It’s not like JFC and PJHQ are not full of people who are intimately aware of the capabilities (and supoprt requirements) of each part of our armed forces.

Mark
Mark
November 27, 2013 11:00 am

Maybe someone in pjhq or dfid could have used that foresight to have looked at propositioning capability/stores as a contingency much closer to the Philippines prior to the typhoon arriving and go in straight afterwards as opposed to over 2 weeks later when most first responders are heading home. We have a met office this was predicted in advance with sufficient time that allowed the government to evacuate people. We do after all have 1000+ personnel with helicopter 500 miles away in Brunei. Maybe the fao could of sent the ambassador to get prior agreement to allow aid in should that be needed or get relavent contact details. Maybe even used google maps to check suitable air or sea locations given the typhoons predicted track. Instead we had the usual whs floating about let’s send something cause we must do something.

Alex
Alex
November 27, 2013 1:16 pm

Of course a civilian vessel charter would deliver more aid

As far as Manila harbour…and perhaps only as far as the anchorage waiting for a berth. In the first few days a hell of a lot of aid and indeed first responders were piling up in Manila and Cebu, whether by air or sea, waiting for a tactical lift to somewhere relevant. In Haiti a few years back, after the big earthquake, the Americans sent first of all people to run the airfield, and did a very good job (almost as many arrivals as Heathrow at one point), much as the French moaned about it. On this occasion, the Filipino AF was in charge and really struggling – they had two C-130s shuttling from Manila into Tacloban I think?

The “aerial Concept 1” post is probably needed. A C-17 of ATCers and Air Support RE types and plant would probably have been very valuable, especially as it could deploy very quickly.

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2013 1:39 pm

tweaky, have you considered that I might not be British? :)

tweckyspat
November 27, 2013 2:16 pm

Observer: Apols, all clear now

If you are US then I completely and utterly agree the huge effort made in Indonesia post-tsunami generated lasting benefit for your country in that region

Challenge is for our smaller nations . My guess is DART is a better tool both in HADR terms (it does more) and lasting influence (soft power)

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 27, 2013 2:29 pm

Looking at the Canadian DART setup I wonder if this is something we should have, maybe on a smaller scale i.e. just a permanent headquarters unit that could deploy in under 72 hours anywhere in the world, and then have other units earmarked for duties with it that could be stood up to deploy in a further 72 hours i.e. medical, engineering and logistics teams.

The HQ team; approx. 40 personnel split across all 3 branches of the military and incorporating DFID and FCO staff as well, capable of rapidly assessing the needs on the ground and negotiating and liaising with all other organisations and countries involved. Must be capable of transporting itself, its vehicles and all supplies to support itself for 7 days on a single C17. It should be able to take off from the UK in 48 hours of being activated and such would need all staff to be permanently assigned and in effect be on standby.

The 3 additional specialised support units, would be approx. 80 personnel made up of both reserve and full time military personnel, along with where appropriate a very small number of DFID personnel, they would be earmarked for the role from a large pool of suitable personnel and their units would be prepared to give them up at very short notice, I would see the Engineer and logistics units deploying as mostly full time personnel and at a platoon level, whereas the medical unit would be based around reserves working within the NHS where the NHS is aware of the fact they will be needed at short notice. The kit they would need would be kept in stores located at a relevant RAF base for ready use. Each unit should be capable of deploying on a single C5 or 3 C17’s and be self-supporting for 7 days.

The longer term support of these units would be from the UK via an air bridge the first priority would be the resources to keep the unit operating, and then where extra capacity is available generic aid would also be flown in.

These rapidly deployed units would then be built upon where needed in an ad hoc manner and this wouldn’t be instead of RN vessels but would take the lead and the RN would just provide support where possible. DFID would also use civilian resources to get the bulk of the actual aid required into the area via civilian aircraft and ships.

If the permanent personnel and the ready use equipment could be maintained for approx. 1 million a year, and then emergency funds applied when needed, I believe it would be a worthwhile exercise, so we can have a presence on the ground much quicker than currently. All vehicles and equipment that is assigned would be plastered with the Union Flag and UKAID etc.

A bit of fantasy planning and would require a bit of start-up capital but not overly expensive for the PR and diplomatic advantages it could bring in.

Alex
Alex
November 27, 2013 4:45 pm

I’ve had a magic disappearing comment:-)

dave haine
dave haine
November 27, 2013 6:34 pm

@ Engineer Tom

No probs with anything, apart from the airlift resources. I’d forget about the C5- it needs a 9000ft runway. C17’s are much better, but I think you should assume no serviceable airfield at least initially. I reckon you should look at A400M’s with an ADR sqn and RAF EAW flight on board initially. They could get an airfield operating, and then the big stuff can pile in.

I suppose though, that’s the issue the HQ could study, whilst waiting for a crisis to pop up.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 27, 2013 6:54 pm

@ DH

I was assuming a serviceable runway of 3500ft that can be operated on during the day; this seemed to be the case in the Philippines in the first few days. If this isn’t available, I don’t know the how likely it is there is going to be a 2500 ft runway. If this is the case getting a runway open might have to be done by locals before we could fly in or maybe by heli-borne or air-dropped units.

C5’s would be better but only if there is a suitable runway, maybe they would be an option later on if needed.

But yes a unit capable of running ATC and other airfield duties might be necessary.

One thing I would also look at is predeploying a a small 4 man team to a predicted storm area a few days in advance, this could allow a vital prep work to begin on day one, and could also if trained provide at least a verification on the ground that a runway is safe and possibly also be equipped with a portable ATC setup, all would have to be transported via scheduled commercial flights, which should be feasible.

dave haine
dave haine
November 27, 2013 7:43 pm

@ Engineer Tom

Fair point, about initial airfield availability…

Although, I suspect that once you’ve got an airfield capable of taking C5’s, you might as well be using chartered cargo aeroplanes, such as ‘X’s’ beloved B747F.

I like the Idea of pre-positioning a team. After all the met office are well practiced at predicting major weather systems, to the extent that the accepted model for hurricane and typhoon forecasting is the ‘Bracknell’ model. So they should be able to predict the track of the impending weather event, and advise accordingly. How would you ensure the safety of the reporting team though?

Geological events could be a bugger though….I guess that would be a quick reaction team…

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2013 7:56 pm

tweaky, not American either.

The Malaysians In action Aceh 2004 Tsunami

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_4Ulhsnr0_Co/SwkX7NK_6II/AAAAAAAAJ8w/OpeSXIxd0BI/s1600/getImage.action00.jpeg

Running the ship right to shore. Worth a think? Saves having to haul water by RHIB. That’s simply trading water for fuel. Run the ship onto shore, use it as a stationary water purification plant cum housing for the time being.

The interior of a mobile air traffic control tower.

http://www.defence.gov.au/optsunamiassist/images/gallery/250104/20050125cpa8267338_012_lo.jpg

It’s made in the UK.

http://www.defence-suppliers.com/supplier/Host_Systems/

Folds into one C-130 cargo load. If you can get engineering assets into the area to clear a runway, you plop this in for air traffic control. Or even better, don’t clear runways, clear round helicopter LZs in a circle around the tower and use it as a heliport instead of an all up airport. Less gain than a runway, but less resource use on it either.

I did some backchecking and apparently any military relief effort must be made BY REQUEST OF THE HOST GOVERNMENT, the 2004 Tsunami response was fast because the request was made by the Indonesian government on the same day to their closest neighbours. The Aussies were actually the first to arrive, on the 27th. The reason why the Philippines response was so slow was because they took a few days to decide they needed help, then requested help from the US and UK whose units were a bit far away.

dave haine
dave haine
November 27, 2013 8:49 pm

Owww-I’ve just had a post eaten!

Apols if this presents as a dupe mess.

@ Engineer Tom

Fair point about airfield availability…

Mind you, once you’ve cleared an airfield to take C5s, you may well be using civvie chartered freighters, anyway.

I do like the idea of pre-positioning a team. The met office are very effective, generally, at monitoring and predicting the movement of major weather systems, so much so that the standard model for such events is called the ‘Bracknell’ model.

How would you protect the readiness team though? Maybe position them nearby with a Merlin, to hop in when suitable.

Geological events could be a bugger though… I think we’d have to rely on a quick reaction team, in that case.

tweckyspat
November 27, 2013 8:50 pm

Observer, plaudits to you and your nation to being fast on the scene with relevant capabilities in 2004/5

I agree a beaching ship to shore water (or fuel) capability makes some good sense. We used to have one too !!

I agree also the importance of a HN invitation hence the need for Uk to maintain (or at least consider) some of its less well known diplo and mil alliances beyond the middle east eg ABCA, FPDA. NB for my paranoid dark blue co-bloggers this does not mean just a ship vist and the RM band playig Sunset

my apologies for having assumed your britishness, to be fair looking back on your post it was not clear !

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 28, 2013 9:25 am

@ DH

Good point on using commercial aircraft, but, I would still consider for pre-deploying the response teams the C5 as the best option as it can seat 75 as well as carrying all the cargo, and also you could rehearse packing the aircraft so you would know exactly what it would be possible to take. But for resupply and expansion commercial would be the best bet.

Regards the advance team, this would only be possible for weather related events, in terms of safety I would very much favour the hoping they don’t get killed route, i.e. send them in with orders to stay on high ground and find shelter and wait it out, it tends to be the locals who get hurt, during the Typhoon there were reporters on the ground and they were ok.

In terms of diplomacy, this is where it gets tricky, having the ok from the nation involved is the hard part, for the pre-deployed team I think it would take a decade or so (depending on the number of incidents) to prove what our response teams can do so that they become a vital part of any initial response, and then I would see their deployment as the hush hush side i.e. we don’t tell the media when they deploy but rather wait until the full response team is deploying after the event to notify the media. it would just be a case of making a niche and hoping countries start to agree, this of course should be easier with allied nations.

dave haine
dave haine
November 28, 2013 10:39 am

@ Engineer Tom

Point taken, although problem is…. We don’t op C5’s, nor is it likely any time soon. The septics have a death grip on them. Maybe keep a An124 on permanent charter/standby?

As for the advance team, for a period of time they would be on their own, because you coudn’t leave the aeroplane there- it would have to scuttle off to perch somewhere safe, but i suppose finding somewhere safe to stash their kit and hunker down is going to be part of their programme.

Diplomacy-wise I can’t see that being a problem with most sensible nations, especially if it’s all done quietly to start with….

Observer
Observer
November 28, 2013 11:26 am

Shall we resurrect my old flying boat idea? Closed runway? What is that? The whole sea is my runway! :P

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 28, 2013 12:11 pm

@ DH

For the 4 man advance team I am thinking along the lines of flying them in commercial to the country where they would hire a 4×4 if they need to move out of the capitol, then the cost are low if and we could fly them around just in case, even if 90% of their deployments turn into nothing, the cost of flying 4 guys around on scheduled flights isn’t going to be over the top, maybe even just have them stay in the embassy in that country.

I’m thinking you would need a doctor, engineer, diplomat, and air traffic controller; they would be there to assess the damage and liaise only rather than give aid.

I favour deploying them quietly before weather events so that it doesn’t look like we are saying the locals can’t cope even before it has happened, and then publicising the deployment of the full team later if they are needed.

tweckyspat
November 28, 2013 12:33 pm

We aren’t short of such teams, they are called (or were) OLRTs – Operational Liaison Reconnaissance Teams and runout of PJHQ.

So far so good, What’s less clear is what comes next.

dave haine
dave haine
November 28, 2013 12:34 pm

@ engineer tom

I think that would serve very well….

wf
wf
November 28, 2013 12:38 pm

@Engineer Tom: excellent idea. I would extend it a bit by specifying RE civil engineer (airport suitability and repair) , RN Amphibious specialist (ports and beaches), REME mechanical engineer (electrical power), RLC logistician (road and rail networks), RE (route repair) , I Corps (security), local contracting specialist (someone who has done business there and knows how to contract and kick local contractors), RAF ATC, doctor, diplomat (as you said). 10 tickets in all :-)

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 28, 2013 12:42 pm

@Observer

“Shall we resurrect my old flying boat idea? Closed runway? What is that? The whole sea is my runway! :P ”

– I thought I had drawn attention to this before but perhaps not. Note the sailors unloading relief supplies from an RAF Sunderland soon after its arrival at 1:01:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhIbp9kxPEU

– As an aside, my wife and I visited Kefalonia (scene of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) a few years ago and I couldn’t help but notice a photo of the previous HMS DARING on the counter in hotel reception. As the linked video describes, she was the first on the scene after the earthquake had flattened all but one village on the island in 1953 and Argostoli, the island’s capital, even has a street named after her.

– The DARING Association had held a reunion at the hotel in 2003 and the manager described how a local man had gatecrashed the gathering. With tears in his eyes, the grateful man had recounted how the sailors had extricated his pregnant mother from the ruins of her home. But for this rescue, he would not have been around to tell the tale. Even after 50 years, this single act was still doing wonders for the UK’s reputation among the local community.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 28, 2013 1:00 pm

@ wf

I would have the specialist engineers come as part of the initial HQ unit that would deploy after the event (within 72 hours), this is due to the need to keep numbers on the pre-deployed team to an absolute minimum, I am envisaging them spending most of their time liaising/negotiating with the local government, the only real field role would be making sure it is safe to land the response time and maybe a bit of assessment work if they have time.

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 28, 2013 1:22 pm

Huzzah! The Army has got involved too:

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/November/28/131128-Illustrious-begins-aid

(Better not tell RT that the pongos have been delivered by the RN or it might re-awaken memories of Dunkirk, Crete, Suez, etc. ;-) )

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 28, 2013 1:35 pm

Now on the Army’s own website:

http://www.army.mod.uk/news/25949.aspx

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 28, 2013 1:38 pm

I do believe they are the RM’s permanently attached engineering units.

Mark
Mark
November 28, 2013 1:39 pm

Engineer tom

You could send this advanced team to the nearest British embassy or consult. They should be sturdy buildings and have access to vehicles. I would think that would cover most places, we do deliever this sort of support every year in the carribean so we must have a fair idea of what’s required from a materials point of view. At the end of the day the military’s role should be to facilitate the movement of these supplies initially and to assist the search and rescue and emergency support until the local gov can take over or if longer support is required hand it over to dfid teams

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 28, 2013 2:04 pm

@Engineer Tom

“I do believe they are the RM’s permanently attached engineering units.”

– Plus the three AAC Lynx and their support team: http://www.army.mod.uk/news/25948.aspx

– Brilliant to see such a constructive joint-effort. It’s not so much a by-product of our global Defence capability as an inherent part of projecting soft power in the far flungs. I suspect the pongos won’t be sorry to get back ashore, though, particularly if the weather deteriorates.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 28, 2013 2:21 pm

I wonder why we didn’t deploy the entire RFTG, the assests that made up Cougar 13 were (some other vessels stayed in the med):

•HMS Bulwark
•HMS Illustrious
•RFA Lyme Bay
•HMS Montrose
•HMS Westminster
•RFA Fort Austin
•RFA Diligence
•MV Hurst Point

Just think of the amount of aid you could deliver with all those vessels.

tweckyspat
November 28, 2013 2:36 pm

Dunservin you are awesomely optimistic, I salute you.

3 weeks after a major disaster we are able to deploy a troop of engineers and 500 tons of aid along with 9 helos.

That is hardly something to shout about. If it changes the balance of (soft) power in the HADR world I will be surprised.

btw Captain (Aqeed) Haider bin Ahmed bin Raheem Dad Al Zadgali was Ex Director for Cougar 13 . Probably known as “Boss” or ” your Highness” for short ?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 28, 2013 4:24 pm

Probably because they’ve been away from the UK for nearly four months and extending the entire group beyond that would put a bit of a hole in the CF readiness plot for 2014. If you use it, you lose it somewhere down the line when you factor in leave periods, upkeep, work-up etc.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 28, 2013 4:44 pm

Surely an incident where the task force can actually be utilised is worth the hassle of rearranging leave periods etc. Why else do we bother having it? The main reason for the COUGAR 13 deployment is to give it something to do, maybe we have a shorter COUGAR 14 next year to get it all back on schedule.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 28, 2013 5:07 pm

It’s not about hassle of rearranging leave periods. The point is that if you extend the whole group, you will lose a chunk of it’s availability next year. That loss of availability means that all of a sudden you don’t have your contingency force ready when you might have thought you would need them for a national requirement, rather than HADR the other side of the world.

Not saying that’s what has happened, but it’s a risk/value judgement which someone will at least have looked at. There is of course a marginal cost argument and also one of available ships. You’ll notice that there’s no tanker in that group, which means supporting a full TG the other side of India is either going to require stripping one from the Gulf or borrowing one from “elsewhere”. Yes, we are that thin.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 28, 2013 5:42 pm

Out of interest is the RFTG available to deploy, when it isn’t deployed, as from what I can see they are forward deployed for less than 6 months a year and then return to the UK to prepare for the following summers deployment.

It just annoys me that we spend millions on having an RFTG that so far has never deployed to an incident, in 2011 a handful of vessels where broken off and supplemented by further vessels from the UK whilst the RFTG sailed East of Suez, in 2012 nothing happened, and this year one vessel was broken off to sail to the Philippines.

It seems to me in a completely cynical manner that the RN is more interested in how long it spends on exercises than being somewhere they could be needed.

My hope for the future is we will maintain 3 separate ‘fleets’ on a 6 month cycle, i.e. build up/home defence, deployed leave/upkeep. I doubt this will ever happen though.

tweckyspat
November 28, 2013 5:59 pm

To be fair, there have been occasions where all 3 services appear to forget that the reason for training and preparation for ops is to deploy on ops, not to be back by Friday afternoon for a long weekend. Flippant ? maybe.

NAB In a HADR I see no real need for an oiler if there are appropriate facilities en route and/or on station provided afloat by another nation, or even ashore if within reasonable range. How did they get to Cougar 13 without one ? Another good reason to maintain working links with other navies and nations.

I am not saying the entire RFTG should deploy for every HADR anywhere in the world. Just that the absence of an oiler is not a main reason.

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 28, 2013 6:33 pm

“Dunservin you are awesomely optimistic, I salute you. 3 weeks after a major disaster we are able to deploy a troop of engineers and 500 tons of aid along with 9 helos. That is hardly something to shout about. If it changes the balance of (soft) power in the HADR world I will be surprised.”

– Yes, someone needs to be the antithesis of GNB and most of you others who deprecate everything so perhaps I am an optimist. This is more than could be said for the benighted inhabitants of the outlying Philippine islands before Lusty rolled up. Remember that she is building on the initial good work of DARING, plus the RAF transports of course. From the tenor of some comments, they would all have been better employed alongside in the UK with their crews twiddling their thumbs and atrophying instead of honing their various skills and interoperability with allies against realistic threats and performing a range of trials and tasks in a variety of challenging environments. Read the articles.

“btw Captain (Aqeed) Haider bin Ahmed bin Raheem Dad Al Zadgali was Ex Director for Cougar 13 . Probably known as “Boss” or ” your Highness” for short ?”

– I think you’ll find he was only Ex Director for OMANI COUGAR, the fourth alliance-reinforcing training exercise of the RFTG’s COUGAR 13 deployment to date. He is known to his subordinates as ‘Sidi’. This is not (as I thought when I first heard it) an affectionate nickname but is the Arabic for ‘Sir’.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 28, 2013 6:35 pm

Within reason ,of course it’s available to deploy, unless major components of it are in upkeep of some description. That’s the point of it being “high readiness”. But if you’re going to use all your “high readiness” assets to do HADR on the other side of the world, you’re burning availability time downstream that might be required for something of real national interest. that’s the risk / value judgement I was referring to.

Not sure what you mean by the RFTG “never having deployed to an incident”, be careful what you wish for. RFTG is the latest in a long series of names for similar forces, UKTG being one. You may be disappointed that we didn’t execute an amphibious landing in Libya (ie use the whole force as you seem to be suggesting), but I doubt HMG is, as they had made a decision to primarily use air power only (with the odd dash of SF). Had a CVS with a proper airgroup been part of the RFTG, then it would undoubtedly have been used in addition to / instead of Ocean and her AH64s. ISTR evacuations of Beirut (2006), Insertion of UK forces into Sierra Leone (2000), insertion of RM Cdos into Afghanistan (2001), all being launched from UK ships that were deployed as part of what is now called RFTG.

dave haine
dave haine
November 28, 2013 6:48 pm

Might not be a lot, but better than doing f**k all, though….

Dunservin
Dunservin
November 29, 2013 3:41 pm

– Latest SITREPs to gladden your hearts:

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/November/29/131129-Illustrious-school

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/royal-engineers-provide-vital-skills-in-the-philippines

http://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive/raf-hercules-delivers-200-tonnes-of-humanitarian-aid-29112013

(Don’t worry. I know I’m wasting my breath with some of you. I just don’t want it to be a case of out of sight, out of mind for the rest. ;-) )

@Engineer Tom

“I wonder why we didn’t deploy the entire RFTG, the assests that made up Cougar 13 were (some other vessels stayed in the med)… Just think of the amount of aid you could deliver with all those vessels.”

– Think of the amount of aid you could deliver by mobilising all RN, Army and RAF assets not currently assigned to other operations but such decisions are governed by practicalities. I imagine PJHQ has performed a sensible pain & grief study of competing priorities. It’s a long way from Suez to the Philippines and they probably sent (a) what could most easily be spared and (b) what could add most value without inflicting unacceptable damage or risk to current and planned/contingency operations.

“…It seems to me in a completely cynical manner that the RN is more interested in how long it spends on exercises than being somewhere they could be needed…”

– You seem to believe that the RN is the master of its own destiny whereas most of its activity is driven by HMG’s Directed Tasks, e.g. hosting UK Trade & Industry events. This is hot off the press:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hms-bulwark-supports-uk-visit-to-libya

– Naturally, the RN exploits valuable opportunities such as the COUGAR deployments so as to maintain, develop and improve its spearhead OC (Operational Capability) across the full gamut of likely roles. To this end, it conducts detailed forward planning, invests considerable resources and negotiates with a host of domestic and foreign agencies and authorities. The necessary lead times to arrange and coordinate such complex multi-national affairs are so long that I suspect costed initial plans for COUGAR 15 are already being drawn up and negotiated while those for COUGAR 14 just need firming up before the first draft of the OPORDER is circulated for comment.

– On a final note, this is an interesting excerpt from a statement and series of questions about Typhoon Haiyan from yesterday’s Hansard:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131128/debtext/131128-0002.htm#13112853000004

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): We are increasingly seeing disasters occurring around the coast and in island states. We have also seen the enormous role that HMS Illustrious has played. Will my right hon. Friend consider whether, when Illustrious retires, we might convert it into Her Majesty’s relief ship, which could be based somewhere such as Gibraltar?

Justine Greening: That is an interesting suggestion. It might prove to be an expensive way of ensuring that we can reach people quickly, but we are always open to ideas. I should say that the medical team on Illustrious has already treated two children with infected wounds who unfortunately needed to have limbs amputated. That saved their lives, so we can see how our Royal Navy provides support to people who are in desperate need, and we should be proud of the work that it is doing.

Peter Elliott
November 29, 2013 3:57 pm

Lusty is now the oldest active ship in the RN and would no doubt prove very expensive to ressurrect in any sort of new role. Both operating costs and any future refurb cost would make the bean counters foam at the mouth.

Ocean might possibly have a few more years to be eked out of her after she steps down from the ‘capital ship’ role in around 2018. Maybe with the RFA crew from Argus and an HADR element to her role.

But the big prize will come when Albion and Bulwark are up for replacement after 2030. The DPA is likely to require 2 new big Dock Ships, designed for lean crewing, with flight decks and maybe some hangerage. Probably UK designed and built to keep the yards busy after T26 winds down. That would be the time for DfID to come to the party and pay for Ships 3 and 4 on a marginal cost basis to perform worldwide HADR.

No idea what the fiscal or world security situation will be like out to 2030 – but that’s what my crystal ball says right now.

Mark
Mark
November 29, 2013 4:22 pm

The Royal Navy maybe faced with the question in 2015 sdsr to choose between operating the second carrier or continuing to operate the 2 Lpds as it currently does. Don’t know how many crew the mothballed Lpd has but adding the crew figures for ocean and a Lpd get you roughly to the number needed for a second cvf crew.

Peter Elliott
November 29, 2013 5:26 pm

@Mark

But we don’t operate the second LPD it is either in maintenance or in extended readiness with a few care and maintenance bods on board. There isn’t a crew to take it to sea without raiding the shore side establishments which would royally bugger up training , diplomacy, procurement and everything else and would only happen in a national emergency.

On the face of it the RN has 3 choices for what to do with QEC #2.

(1) To crew it and operate it, such that we could send both ships to sea at once. Unfortunately we don’t have enough escorts to generate a second Task Group at or enough airframes (rotary or fixed) to do that in anything other than the above mentioned screaming national emergency.

(2) To do the same as we do now and alternate 2 capital ships in service with some overlaps for work-up but some time spent alongside in extended readiness, allowing us to have a capable single Task Group at readiness in all ordinary times (although but not to sustain one deployed indefinately.)

(3) Either sell or leave to rot the second ship, meaning that the single task group would have to stand down whenever QEC #1 went into deep maintenance. And if anything happened to that ship, like hitting a mine or going aground or catching fire, we’d be without any capability at all.

The thing I don’t know is whether there may be an option (2+) that involved sqeezing more toothpaste out of the tube somehow to increase the overlaps and occasionally field both ships, one in the fixed wing an one in the rotary role. This would be useful for exercise every 2 or 3 years to practice the ‘pure’ role and work out how we could operate the two ships togther in case we ever need to. We could plausibly drag in allied navies to bulk up the escort numbers for such occasional exercieses without destroying the readiness cycle of our own Frigates and Destroyers, and indeed borrow some US or even Italian cabs to bulk up the airwings.

Dunservin
Dunservin
December 3, 2013 7:30 pm

Not much covered by the mainstream media any more but BZ to the RAF C-130 and its team who have now handed over to the Philippines Air Force after a job well done:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/raf-hercules-detachment-hands-over-philippines-role

In the meantime, Lusty carries on and has received some heart-warming expressions of gratitude:

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/December/03/131203-Illustrious-Thankyous