Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti - Updated

By now I believe everyone has heard about the earthquake in Haiti overnight. As the nation turns to the maritime services to respond and assist our southern neighbors, the blog will naturally be observing these events.

This may develop into something very similar to the Tsunami response, as among other things, it appears Port-au-Prince has been completely destroyed, and the death toll may already be in the thousands including all UN staff there. The infrastructure of the country is likely completely wiped out, which will make the recovery very difficult.

For those who haven't heard, the son of recently retired CHINFO Frank Thorp IV has been in the news of the earthquake. I missed the morning shows participating in a blogger roundtable with ADM Stavridis, but the latest word I caught was that Frank's son was able to rescue his wife, although her condition is still unknown.

RADM Frank Thorp was not only the first Admiral, but among the very first naval officers who reached out to contact me when I began writing the blog. I ask this community to keep his family in our prayers, as well as the many others devestated by this massive natural disaster to our nations south.

Updated: First, on this blog, family comes first. I want to pass on something from RADM Frank Thorp's Facebook page.
Thank you to everyone for your outpouring of support for Frank and Jillian. Last we heard was that Frank was able to help rescue Jillian from the rubble of her Mission House and they are on the way to the embassy, possibly to be medevac'd... They understandably want to stay and help what they tell us is an absolutely... horrible and catastrophic situation... Please keep them in your thoughts!
Good news.

If you find something interesting or have a comment on the developing situation regarding Haiti, please note interesting news items in the comments. If you Navy information observers would leave links to your official articles, I would also appreciate it, including any links to photos taken.

It looks like the Navy is developing a massive Sea Base operation centered around the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), the USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), and the USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) with cruisers and frigates in support (note helicopter capable vessels). Also as should be expected, significant Coast Guard and assets from other services are being mobilized as well, so far I think I have seen 4 different cutters mentioned.

The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in particular will be what I am watching. With significant fresh water production capacity, that may turn into one of the most important early assets needed. It cannot be overstated the strategic and tactical significance of a large deck aircraft carrier arriving quickly to this situation. Consider for a moment what it means to look out into the sea following this disaster and seeing the distinct and globally recognized silhouette of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. That really is by definition strategic communication of hope that the US is there to help. We should never take that symbolism for granted should we wish to remain a global power, as that soft power influence factors strategically well beyond the capacity for critics who desire to create hard power tactical alternatives.

There are rumors of helicopter packages being prepared for deployment on the Vinson, if you know the squadrons please leave in comments. Ironic the USS Wasp (LHD 1) was there just a month ago with a deck full of helicopters working with the Haitian military - suggesting we have recent mil-to-mil relationships to build upon when securing the population should the UN mission indeed be compromised.

As more information comes available, it is worth keeping an eye on the scheduled deployment of the Nassau ARG next week, and if I am not mistaken the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) may be an asset close to that area as there have been pictures on navy.mil this week of their activities preparing for an upcoming deployment, although they must be north as they appear to be cold in those photos.

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