Wandering off topic here, but it's Sunday.... what the hell!
Speaking of ships.
The conference in Kobe - at which various government experts, scientists, etc have been discussing disaster response strategies - got me thinking.
I may be wrong about this but when disasters have struck - floods, earthquakes, volcanic activity, typoons, and of course, tsunamis - one of the big problems in the first few days appears to be the need for heavy equipment: bulldozers, JCBs, cranes, trucks, etc. I say, 'I might be wrong', because journos, spokesmen, NGOs etc don’t often mention it. They call for food, water, tents, medicine, doctors, paramedics, search & rescue teams with dogs, etc - the essential stuff that can be quickly flown in.
And although there’s never enough of it, that form of International aid usually does arrive fairly quickly, because it can be carried by air.
But when roads are impassable, buildings collapsed, or mudslides, etc to deal with, what they really need are big machines to shift lots of debris, and that can’t come by air…. or at least, not in any large numbers.
What we could do with is a fleet of ‘International Rescue’ ships; old/surplus amphibious assault ships and marine helicopter carriers, packed with heavy equipment and parked around the world - a couple in the Indian Ocean/Indonesia region (perhaps one around Diego Garcia and the other in Singapore) two in the Pacific (maybe at Pearl Harbour), one somewhere around the Caribbean (maybe close to the Panama canal), one in the Atlantic. OK, they might not be much use for a disaster in the Himalayas or Siberia, but most populated regions of the world are within a hundred miles of the sea.
They probably should be run under the UN flag and could be operated by the countries from whose fleets they came, or a rotation of countries.
With landing craft to deliver heavy equipment and helicopters to carry lighter equipment (doctors, generators, refrigeration plants, jeeps, etc) these rescue ships could really have an impact....
Anyway. Just an idea.