Haiti earthquake shows value of maritime assets in disaster response

The US Navy San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Arlington in 2014 (Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Shelby M. Tucker)

In the wake of the Afghanistan debacle, many commentators have been decrying the motivation, and military capabilities, of the USA and its allies. Perhaps they should take a look at what’s going on in Haiti following the recent disastrous earthquake.

The following naval and paramilitary assets have been deployed to the stricken island nation:

  • US Navy amphibious transport dock Arlington
  • US Military Sealift Command Fast Expeditionary Transport Burlington
  • US Coast Guard cutters Reliance, Winston Griesser, and Margaret Norvell
  • UK Royal Fleet Auxiliary Replenishment Tanker Wave Knight

In addition, some 20 US Coast Guard, US Navy, and US Army helicopters, mainly redeployed from Central America and the Caribbean islands, are on-scene.

RFA Wave Knight (Photo: Royal Navy)

The American vessels have landed medical and security teams and emergency stores, and the helicopters have evacuated many casualties, while Wave Knight, with its large flight deck, is acting as an offshore refuelling platform, thereby extending the range and endurance of the helicopters. Burlington is reportedly operating uncrewed aerial surveillance platforms.

A further seven cutters are reportedly on passage to Haiti.