Optimizing ship-to-shore movement for Hospital Ship humanitarian assistance operations
Ward, Peter W.
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The U.S. Navy recently designated Humanitarian Assistance (HA) and Disaster Relief (DR) as core capabilities, recognizing the importance of delivering a potent strategic communications message directly to foreign populations. The Ship-to-Shore Transportation Problem (SSTP) refers to the daily need to determine transportation asset (embarked helicopters, watercraft, and ground vehicles) routing and loading to effect the movement of personnel and patients between Hospital Ship (T-AH) and ashore mission sites during HA/DR operations. The SSTP significantly impacts overall mission performance. The SSTP is formulated as a mixed-integer mathematical optimization model, minimizing cost in a multi-objective merit function reflecting mission performance, personnel strength and transportation asset utilization while reflecting constraints unique to T-AH HA (flight deck limitations, restricted embarkation and debarkation by watercraft). Optimized schedules improve average duration of ashore mission site operations by between 9% and 13% compared to a set of optimistic, pseudo-manually generated schedules, and decrease average time spent by personnel in transit by between 16% and 43%. USNS COMFORT (TAH 20) treated nearly 95,000 patients in 2007 during an HA deployment; operational efficiencies can translate into thousands more benefiting from HA. This thesis also helps allocate helicopter flight hours, a monthly constraint, over a set of daily SSTP scenarios.
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