I had a random thought the other day after reading two articles that were day-and-night apart from each other. I read about the problems caused by a massive east coast storm. I recalled the destruction and loss of life and property caused by hurricanes and tsunamis. I also read with sadness that our first nuclear aircraft carrier, Enterprise, was on its final voyage to the scrapyard. What could these items possibly have in common?
I thought about the various natural disasters that affected the east coast, Haiti, Japan, the Gulf coast and islands, etc. Disasters of this type occur regularly (unfortuneately). I thought about how we have massive airlifts and how it is always a logical nightmare to get to these places due to damaged ground conditions. I heard a radio interview with a relief worker in Haiti after a massive hurricane and he stated that chainsaws were sorely needed in the relief effort. While the world sent clothes and food what was sorely needed were people with chainsaws to clear roads so that supplies could be moved.
I had a thought but I have no idea if it would feasible or practical. What if the Enterprise, or a similar aircraft carrier, was converted from a military vessel to a disaster and relief vessel. It has nearly unlimited power, massive cooking facilities, lots of room, complete infrastructure, it is mobile, and it was designed to handle almost any weather condition. Could such a ship be re-configured as a floating rescue and emergency base? The ship could be equipped with evacuation aircraft, heavy lift helicopters, heavy equipment (bulldozers, loaders, graders, etc.), temporary living facilities, triage/medical areas, operating rooms, etc. It is already a portable airport where planes and helicopters could land even if ground landstrips are gone.
Airlift planes and helicopters could transport casualties and the massive elevators could transport equipment and victims to the hanger deck for treatment. The flight deck would be relatively stable since the ship would normally be stationary when deployed. When a disaster hits it could be a temporary shelter, floating hospital, and command center for heavy operations such as clearing and road building.
Think of the benefit that this could have in the event of a disaster. Staffing the ship could provide training for military, cadets, and relief personnel. It would be expensive but it would also save the cost of doing much of the current airlifts (which are VERY expensive). It already has a full shop for equipment and aircraft maintenance so it would be completely self-contained. Again, I have no idea if this would be feasible but it would be very cool.