Water Beyond the Shore

Look at any of the marketing material for any new combat vessel these days and there is always a reference to the potable water generation capacity in relation to how it can support Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response operations. Water supply is often a critical problem to be solved in the early phase of such a response and yet the means of getting potable water from the ship to the coast and inland seems to receive less attention.

Using water distribution points to fill plastic bottles and then transfer them to helicopters for transport inland is about as inefficient and expensive as it gets but in the absence of an alternative, better than nothing.

 

100118-N-1240O-084 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan 18, 2010) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) fill water containers for distribution to Hatian citizens. Carl Vinson is deployed supporting Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake cause severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erin Oberholtzer/Released)
100118-N-1240O-084
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan 18, 2010) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) fill water containers for distribution to Hatian citizens. Carl Vinson is deployed supporting Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake cause severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erin Oberholtzer/Released)

 

100118-N-8822R-007 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 18, 2010) Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) load water jugs onto an SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter to be delivered to those who were affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Antwjuan Richards-Jamison/Released)
100118-N-8822R-007
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 18, 2010) Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) load water jugs onto an SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter to be delivered to those who were affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Antwjuan Richards-Jamison/Released)

With the right combination of ships, equipment and personnel, a more efficient method will be to utilise water sources onshore, purify/treat, store and transport forward using tankers or standard trucks for bottled water.

For fuel, both the UK and US have capable systems for transferring fuel from afloat tankers to installations on the near shore from where it can be distributed. The UK’s system is called JOFS.
The video below shows JOFS in action in a ship to shore role, making use of Army Work Boats, RE Divers and Mexeflote’s to bring aviation fuel ashore, the system is called the Towed Flexible Barge Discharge System (TFBDS), supplied by DESMI and Trelleborg, 5 are in service. The barge or dracone has a capacity of 300,000 Litres, once it has been filled by connecting to an RFA (or civilian) tanker the barge is towed to within 200m of the shoreline and connected to a manifold raft. this raft is then connected via flexible pipelines to the onshore installation that uses 136,000 Litre flexible pillow tanks.

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JOFS Fuel 1[/tab] [tab title=”JOFS 2″]

JOFS Fuel 2

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JOFS Fuel 3[/tab] [tab title=”JOFS Video”]

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Using a flexible pipe for potable water transfer from a ship to the shore (like JOFS) has the potential to provide a much higher throughput than helicopters and would also allow the finite number of helicopters to be made available for other tasks.

Once onshore, temporary pipelines might also be used in place of trucks, again, providing a step change in efficiency.

This video from TOHL shows the installation by helicopter of a 1,000m long, 25mm diameter HDPE pipeline in less than 10 minutes, impressive.

25mm might seem like a small pipe, and it is, but even accounting for pipe losses and other factors, the throughput would be around 3,000 Litres per hour. In a 24 hour period at the WHO recommended 15 Litres per day per person, that is just under 5,000 people. These are back of a fag packet calculations but still provide a god indicator.

Another way of viewing that is 3,600 jerrycans, or 70 pallet loads of bottled water.

Half the throughput and it is still a worthwhile transfer rate, especially in difficult terrain that might require trucks to navigate a tortuous route to get the destination.

A second prototype has been completed, the result of a successful Kickstarter Campaign.

tohl-helicopter-pipeline-3

Whether this is for the rapid ship to shore transfer of potable water to an onshore distribution point or an inland application with no ships in sight, small, light and rapidly installed pipelines are efficient and make use of scarce resources like helicopters.

I like it!

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DJF
DJF
November 8, 2015 7:25 pm

One thing that I think has not been addressed in providing water from ships in relief situations is that coastal waters are often polluted, especially if there is a disaster where chemicals, garbage, sewage, etc is dumped.

The USN generally bans the purifying of water either with evaporators or reverse osmosis within 12 miles of land. That means that relief ships won’t be able to tie up or anchor close to shore and purify water so that you have to rely on what is in the ships water tanks. Once the ships water tanks get drained the ship will have to get underway and head out to sea for sometimes days to refill its water tanks. So the ship will no longer be available for rescue operations while refilling its tanks.

Its possible to add additional purification equipment to operate in polluted waters but the vast majority of ships don’t have it

TrT
TrT
November 8, 2015 9:02 pm

” In a 24 hour period at the WHO recommended 15 Litres per day per person, that is just under 5,000 people.”
And 15L is everything, drinking, cooking, washing self, washing clothes, ect.

“The USN generally bans the purifying of water either with evaporators or reverse osmosis within 12 miles of land.”
Its a cost issue more than an equipment issue
The more polluted the water, the quicker the filters are blocked and require replacement, much easier to just make water at sea and run off the pot tanks for a few days, and refill them once you’re back at sea.
Filters arent expensive, but they arent free,

Tap water to (almost) complete distillation burns out 10″ filters in 2500 gallons, Salt water is going to do that quicker, salt water plus sewage much much quicker.

Nuclear ships using steam desalination have different issues, but still issues.

Observer
Observer
November 9, 2015 4:21 am

@TD

The other point to the question is “how fast can it be taken down?”. Military intervention in disasters is actually a very short term thing and once they hand over to the NGOs, they pack up and go home, so while setting up a whole desalination and distribution system is well and nice, what happens when it is time to go home in a month or 2 at most? It is this time limitation that often results in short term thrown together solutions as the armed forces will not be there for longer than that.

stephen duckworth
November 9, 2015 5:53 am

@Observer
Very good point on the time aspect of kit supplied . The kit embarked on ships or ready for flying in on C-17 or what have you should be either life cycle dependant I.e.3 months or of sufficient quality to be utilized or reused for years afterwards. People dying from dirty water is an immediate problem be it a HADR or flare conflict involving our own uniforms requiring clean water within hours/days rather than weeks. Immediate supplies is paramount but what about longer term, can they same kit be life and extended for both.

Robbie
Robbie
November 9, 2015 8:06 am

Whilst serving on a UK LDP our CO thought it would be a good idea to make water whilst off of the coast of Bangladesh during a joint UK RM /Bangladeshi Armed Forces exercise. Despite vigorous protests from the engineers that it was not a good idea ( The dead cows floating past the ship where a good indicator that it would end in tears!) the immortal words ‘I hear what you’re saying ….but…the way ahead is ” where uttered and so the RO plant was put into operation. Some hours later with minimal water made, none of which was fit for consumption and a completely silted up RO plant the engineers warnings had been realised.
Dont make water in coastal areas only do it out at sea in clear water then move inshore to offload to shore.

TrT
TrT
November 9, 2015 6:50 pm
Reply to  Robbie

Robbie
That deployment wouldnt have had a C5 film crew on board would it?

Gunbuster's
Gunbuster's
November 18, 2015 8:28 am

We had a film crew onboard splitting their time between us and the Death Star although I am not sure they were from C5. I was in a few clips but mostly in crossing the line as Neptune’s rather nasty and vindictive surgeon. Oh how I miss the screams! ;)