An Analysis of United States Navy Disaster Relief Operations
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Over the past decade, there have been numerous disasters for which the United States Navy (USN) has provided a significant amount of effective assistance in terms of scope, scale and timing due to its many unique and critical capabilities. During each disaster response the USN has deployed many different types of ships. However, not all ships are equally suited to contribute effectively to each disaster. Currently, there is no mechanism to explicitly evaluate the utility of vessel types for disaster response. We discuss the characteristics of specific USN vessels in the context of three events – the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2005 U. S. Hurricane Katrina, and 2010 Haiti Earthquake – so as to illustrate their relative utility for disaster response. Our contribution to the research literature is threefold. First, we present a case methodological approach to evaluate the capability of an organization to provide assistance during a disaster response operation; this methodological approach may be used in future research to evaluate the disaster response capabilities other types of organizations. Second, we determine which USN assets are best suited for specific disaster relief efforts based upon the capabilities and limitations of the vessels and the traits of the disaster. Finally, our results will assist the U.S. Congress as well as the USN with its decisions when considering the types of vessels it will retain or procure in the future to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
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