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Hanabusa asks Navy to look into keeping USNS Mercy docked at 'forward Pacific port'

By William Cole

LAST UPDATED: 01:27 a.m. HST, Nov 19, 2013

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is asking the Navy to study the merits of moving the hospital ship USNS Mercy from San Diego to a "forward Pacific port" such as Pearl Harbor to be able to respond quicker to natural disasters and other emergencies in the region.

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, ordered the activation of the big hospital ship last Wednesday in the event it was needed to support the typhoon relief effort in the Philippines.

If ordered to deploy, Mercy could have been underway in "several days," but would arrive in the Philippines in December due to the long transit, the Navy said last week.

So far, the Philippines has not requested the assistance of the Mercy, however.

"We have seen that one of the evolving roles of the U.S. military as we rebalance to the Asia-Pacific will be (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief), and know that Typhoon Haiyan will not be the last time the U.S. finds itself in need of quick response to help an ally," Hanabusa said in a letter Monday to Harris, the Pacific fleet commander, and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

Hanabusa is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Hanabusa said she was pleased to see Harris' decision to activate Mercy, but remained concerned "about the lead time that it will take the ship to reach its destination in the Philippines if deployed."

Pacific Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Steven Curry said the activation of Mercy was complete as of Saturday.

"The activation decision was made early in the crisis, before the medical situation was completely known due to the time required to prepare the ship for sea, and transit to the affected area," Curry said in an e-mail. "Now that the medical situation in the Philippines is clearer, we have made the decision to keep USNS Mercy pierside in an activated status, fully ready to deploy if requested by our Philippine ally."  

Not deploying Mercy "demonstrates not only the strength of the Philippine government taking actions to take care of their own people, but the resolve and efforts put forth by the U.S. and international community to come to the aid of the people of the Philippines," Curry said.

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localguy wrote:
How can you tell a clueless, rookie, dysfunctional bureaucrat? Just look at Hanabusa. Concerned about the lead time the ship will need to deploy?" Hello Hanabooza, far smarter minds then yours have already been there, done that. You failed to check before talking. Sure, just tell the Navy to re-position the USNS Mercy from San Diego to Hawaii. What Hanabooza failed to consider: 1. Where are you going to dock the ship. 2. Ships cost more to support in Hawaii due to higher corrosion levels. 3. Resupplying the ship will cost more due to the "Matson connection" 4. Initial refueling will cost more, fuel more expensive in the Nei. 5. The people who maintain the ship all have homes in San Diego and are not interested in moving to the backwards Nei. 6. I could go on for hours but you get the picture. Hanabooza = Acutely dysfunctional, rookie, beltway bureaucrat.
on November 18,2013 | 01:53PM
serious wrote:
Correct, localguy, and look at the cost of the Jones Act. AND, suppose there is a disaster in Mexico or Peru??? AND, how did she vote on maintaining people's insurance policy??
on November 18,2013 | 02:33PM
localguy wrote:
I almost forgot to mention the #1A reason Hanabooza made this request to the Navy. Her union bosses paid her a visit, said they wanted more jobs working on Navy ships, told her to work with the Navy to get another ship transferred to Oahu. Hmmm, kow towing to her union bosses. Just another day in the Nei.
on November 18,2013 | 04:20PM
Bdpapa wrote:
No I think she has a good idea. If not here Guam is another option. There are docking areas here at Pearl Harbor. They may need to move something to the scrap yard in west lock, but there is room. What are you talking about with corrosion? Isn't salt water salt water. Matson has nothing to do with supplying a navy ship. They have many supply ships and they can replenish at sea if necessary. The Navy has their own fuel. We have people here who can do the same work. It's a good idea. Most of us just don't want I to be her idea.
on November 19,2013 | 07:18AM
yamaco wrote:
Hanabusa is an idiot. It is better to keep the hospital ship in San Diego where it can be activated faster. When the big earthquake hits LA it can be on scene faster. All of the personnel manning the ship during a crisis probably live on the west coast so it makes more sense to keep it there. Hawaii is 2,000 miles closer to Asia so it would take only an additional 4 days to arrive on scene to a disaster in Asia. It would cost more to base the ship in Hawaii and due to sequestration the Navy can ill afford to afford to have the ship in Hawaii.
on November 19,2013 | 09:25AM
Bdpapa wrote:
It only takes 4 days to get to California also. This ship would be strategic for the State of Hawaii, Guam , Alaska, and the Pacific region. It should've always been here.
on November 19,2013 | 11:11AM
DAGR81 wrote:
localguy, what have you accomplished in your life time...just curious?
on November 19,2013 | 10:30AM
Locokane wrote:
Great idea and the docking requirements will create more construction jobs and continuous employment instead of building more homes all over the island.
on November 18,2013 | 08:26PM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
Just another example of political attention-getting, fabricated, non-news in the era of Post Inouye Stress Syndrome. She has all the horsepower of a hair-clipper cutting the grass they planted on Nimitz for APEC to see this happen.
on November 19,2013 | 01:23AM
primo1 wrote:
Agreed. Trying to make like Inouye, but failing miserably.
on November 19,2013 | 07:50AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Still a good idea.
on November 19,2013 | 01:24PM
ejkorvette wrote:
If this psuedo politician is that "hosed up", then how was she ever elected for anything? Besides d-bad of the year!....
on November 19,2013 | 05:52AM
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