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Should the royal navy have a real hospital ship?

Contains threads on Royal Navy equipment of the past, present and future.
Caribbean
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Re: Should the royal navy have a real hospital ship?

Postby Caribbean » 10 Oct 2019, 09:48

SW1 wrote:Hard and expensive to find all that outside of military capability.

In reality, only the logistics stuff is primarily (though not exclusively) the preserve of the military. Most of the other skills can be obtained though the civilian sector (often as unpaid volunteers - that's how many of the medical NGOs work), or by NGOs hiring ex-military personnel. Civilian organisations are quite capable of providing the other skills (surveyors, engineers, police etc) and assets, such as helicopters (during 2017's hurricane response in TCI/ BVI etc, Cayman Police sent a helicopter and it's support team and operated initially off an anchored Bay-class). Since then, they've bought a second helicopter (the UK Govt is contributing 10% of the purchase and running costs) that is more SAR focussed and also hired an ex-AAC pilot (this was primarily in response to a maritime disaster in 2016, but the UK Govt wants it to be available for hurricane response). Other islands sent police detachments to improve security, and contributed personnel as requested (such as Red Cross-trained disaster response management teams). A great deal of effort is going into building up the islands own resources, but I don't think the impact of a hurricane is fully appreciated.
SW1 wrote:That about sums up a first response,

Yes- the military are good for that, no doubt (and the often unmentioned factor is the fact that the force is operating under military discipline), however they lack depth - a fully-loaded Bay class is completely inadequate to addressing the needs of even a small island that has suffered a complete infrastructure collapse. In the latest incident, we had to divert an icebreaker to pick up supplies in Bermuda, and even then, ran out of stores within days. Thankfully the Dutch sent HNLMS Pelikaan (which is not a big ship), to assist, but even so, the stores available were inadequate. What is needed is additional depth of capability, to which a couple of large, civilian, combined HADR/ hospital ships (plus a couple of re-supply freighters) would add enormously. If that was coupled with the formation of a civilian (or RFA-style para-military) disaster response organisation, paid for out of the aid budget, then it would go some way towards providing an adequate response (the current set-up is, frankly, not adequate, despite the huge efforts of the individuals concerned, and, as 2018 showed, it can take weeks to ramp up an adequate response).
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SW1
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Re: Should the royal navy have a real hospital ship?

Postby SW1 » 10 Oct 2019, 18:00

Caribbean wrote:
SW1 wrote:Hard and expensive to find all that outside of military capability.

In reality, only the logistics stuff is primarily (though not exclusively) the preserve of the military. Most of the other skills can be obtained though the civilian sector (often as unpaid volunteers - that's how many of the medical NGOs work), or by NGOs hiring ex-military personnel. Civilian organisations are quite capable of providing the other skills (surveyors, engineers, police etc) and assets, such as helicopters (during 2017's hurricane response in TCI/ BVI etc, Cayman Police sent a helicopter and it's support team and operated initially off an anchored Bay-class). Since then, they've bought a second helicopter (the UK Govt is contributing 10% of the purchase and running costs) that is more SAR focussed and also hired an ex-AAC pilot (this was primarily in response to a maritime disaster in 2016, but the UK Govt wants it to be available for hurricane response). Other islands sent police detachments to improve security, and contributed personnel as requested (such as Red Cross-trained disaster response management teams). A great deal of effort is going into building up the islands own resources, but I don't think the impact of a hurricane is fully appreciated.
SW1 wrote:That about sums up a first response,

Yes- the military are good for that, no doubt (and the often unmentioned factor is the fact that the force is operating under military discipline), however they lack depth - a fully-loaded Bay class is completely inadequate to addressing the needs of even a small island that has suffered a complete infrastructure collapse. In the latest incident, we had to divert an icebreaker to pick up supplies in Bermuda, and even then, ran out of stores within days. Thankfully the Dutch sent HNLMS Pelikaan (which is not a big ship), to assist, but even so, the stores available were inadequate. What is needed is additional depth of capability, to which a couple of large, civilian, combined HADR/ hospital ships (plus a couple of re-supply freighters) would add enormously. If that was coupled with the formation of a civilian (or RFA-style para-military) disaster response organisation, paid for out of the aid budget, then it would go some way towards providing an adequate response (the current set-up is, frankly, not adequate, despite the huge efforts of the individuals concerned, and, as 2018 showed, it can take weeks to ramp up an adequate response).


I’m not disagreeing with any of that, spending DFID money on national resilience and infrastructure robustness is where money should be being spent.

You can of course obtain such skills set but it isn’t cheap especially to have it held at readiness. It only makes sense from a first response point of view if your removing the military from the role altogether and if that’s the case fine. However with regard to the Caribbean there is other reasons why such forces are there so are you saving anything.

I agree the initial entry phase is what the military are good at. Open an airfield or port re-establishment of communication to enable bulk to arrive from civilian means. But natural disasters aren’t confined to the Caribbean, floods in Mozambique or earthquakes in Nepal, which don’t always lend themselves to ship delivered responses.

Ultimately if it’s longer term aid delivery and medical provision that these proposals are aimed at then contracting of shipping/aircraft and establishment of onshore medical facilities are probably more useful.


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