The Peace Corps needs a Navy

dispatched 6 desperately needed helicopters from combat operations in Afghanistan, but with the arrival of the USS Peleliu those six will return to be replaced by 19 USMC helos (eventhough, in an unrelated incident, the captain of the Peleliu was relieved of command last weekend). Last year the disaster was in Haiti, and before then we had earthquakes and tsunamis all of which required a significant deployment of US combat capabilities in a humanitarian effort.  Sometimes these come at a cost, such as when our aircraft carriers were working with the Indonesian tsunami and we had to offload all the combat aircraft (carrier pilots need to land on a carrier every 21 days to maintain proficiency, which was nearly impossible with all the relief operations ongoing on the deck and the refusals of local governments for military aircraft to operate in their airspace). While the military does a wonderful job assisting in humanitarian efforts, it’s sometimes like calling the fire department to rescue a cat from a tree.  Is the military the most efficient resource we can send to a humanitarian crisis?  Is there a better suited federal agency or group that could provide necessary assistance? Perhaps it is time for the Peace Corps to develop a Navy. Taking a few amphibious assault vessels out of the reserve fleets and turning them over to the Peace Corps might be an interesting approach.  Staffed with Peace Corps volunteers, professional (contract) pilots, and merchant mariners, we could develop a small fleet of emergency assistance vessels that would patrol the worlds oceans providing medical assistance to impoverished lands and responding to natural disasters with their own fleet of specially suited rescue and logistics helicopters.  Without the ‘US Military’ label that goes on some operations, countries might be more willing to accept assistance.  Take the Chinese earthquake in Sichaun in 2008.  Existing Chinese military units were vastly overstretched, but national pride prevented initial requests for international assistance.  Had an amphibious ‘rescue’ vessel been offshore or in Hong Kong the response from the US could have been non-militaristic and immediate. Of course given the budget deficits and the fact that humanitarian dollars flowing to the Pentagon help to offset some of the operational expenses of the forces, I don’t foresee this happening anytime soon.  C’est la vie.]]>

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Somali pirates, in a fit of stupidity, attack HNLMS Tromp, a Dutch warship.

launch a raid on the HNLMS Tromp, a Dutch frigate on anti-piracy patrols off of Somalia. Why are there so many idiots around the world. [caption id="attachment_2926" align="alignleft" width="512" caption="This is not a cargo vessel"][/caption]   [caption id="attachment_2927" align="alignleft" width="512" caption="This is not a cargo vessel from this view either."][/caption]]]>

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Tracking the hospital ship USNS Comfort in the Chesapeake Bay on the way to Haiti.

[/caption]   For those in the Annapolis area (and who can see through this bit of fog we have on the Bay today), you might be able to catch a glimpse of the USNS COMFORT hospital ship on its way to Haiti sometime around 11:30. Good viewing points in Sandy Point State Park, the Bay Bridge, or in the Bay Ridge area of Annapolis. Again, it is a bit foggy right now so you might not be able to see it unless the fog burns off It should be around the North Beach / Chesapeake Beach boardwalk, another great viewing point which is about 45 minutes from DC around 12:00-12:30. It’s not a very fast ship. ETA to Haiti is 5 days. The COMFORT is squawking on the AIS frequencies, so you can track it. At the moment it looks like it is just leaving the port of Baltimore. Track all ships in the Bay: http://www.chesbayshipping.com/ http://www.popularwireless.com/sp/index.php http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/datasheet.aspx?da…PORT_ID=95&PORT_NAME=BALTIMORE This should be the COMFORT directly (select USNS Comfort and then ZOOM): http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?cent…entery=38.95&zoom=9&level1=130 UPDATE: The COMFORT is battling a bit of stormy weather at the moment. UPDATE 2:  The Baltimore Sun is live blogging from the COMFORT, due to arrive in Haiti on Thursday.]]>

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Full list of Navy ships being sent to Haiti

[/caption] I put together a list of Navy vessels being sent to Haiti.  Quite an armada. USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) USS Bataan (LHD 5) USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) USS Underwood (FFG 36) USS Kearsarge USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) USS Higgins (DDG-76) USS Normany (CG-60) USCG Forward USCG Valiant USCG Mohawk USCG Tahoma [caption id="attachment_2721" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Damage to the ports in Haiti"][/caption] Canadian Navy HMCS Athabaskan HMCS Halifax]]>

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Fire on Tilghman Island???

Looking out over the Bay tonight was quite pretty as we had some clear skies and a rather large moon rising. But then I noticed this really bright light about 9:00 PM that wasn’t usually there (the other side of the Bay is rather desolate–I can often count the number of lights I see pretty easily)

This was a bit different. It blazed brightly and flickered a bit, kind of like a fire. The odd thing was it was about 40 feet up in the air, and I also saw another flickering light down below (fire truck?).

Unfortunately distortion over the water prevents me from seeing clearly just what is going on over there. The Naval Research Lab has a large tower over there for radar research. I hope that’s not what I saw on fire (maybe they were doing laser tests or something).

UPDATE: Went and got the bigger binoculars out of the basement and…still no idea. It might not be a fire but some really powerful light, being distorted in shape and intensity due to the water vapor over the Bay tonight. It’s still going on after 40 minutes and that tower really doesn’t have the much fuel (it’s not that big). Guess I’ll just have to wait and see…

We’ll check the Eastern Shore papers tomorrow and see what’s what.

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Half a submarine just floated past.

Ok, I know it sounds odd, but I swear I just saw 1/2 of a Submarine go past the house on top of a barge.

I went to the AIS site and the barge is the:
Ship Name: C.ANGELO
Speed : 8
MMSI: 366988420
Course: 356.5
Ship Type: Tug
Heading: 511
Ship Lat: 38.6979
Ship Long: -76.451
Dimensions: L: 30
W: 10
Destination: RIVER HEAD
D: 3.4
ETA: Jan09 19:00
http://www.popularwireless.com/sp/index.php
UPDATE: It might be the front bit that goes in below the waterline in front of a ship:
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