Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Learning From Katrina

The immediate aftermath of Katrina - when local responders failed and there was no immediate assistance available from higher governmental echelons - revealed a failure in the ability of government to meet a legitimate need (for rescue and succor). It also revealed a failure on the part of the free market - a rudimentary analysis indicates that an extremely profitable opportunity exists in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. There may have been non-market reasons for the failure of the enterprise to materialize - reasons which one suspects have now been blown away, along with a great deal of the Gulf Coast.

It would be a relatively simple matter to organize and deploy a Brown Water Response Fleet, consisting largely of freighters and shallow-draft craft and security barges supplemented by small helicopter carriers and medical frigates. The freighters would be largely filled with relief supplies. The fleet as a whole would do search and rescue, evacuations, reconnaisance, first-response supplementation and other appropriate duties in the aftermath of major disasters such as coastal earthquakes or hurricanes.

The fleet would operate in a heightened response mode during hurricanes, following the storm track and providing aid as needed. The off season would be spent in training, workups, vacation, refit, etc.

As a private entity, the fleet would have to cooperate with local authority, of course. This can be facilitated by operating only in areas or regions which have subscribed to the service. Premiums could be paid by coastal towns and communities on a services-rendered basis, plus an operating cost premium to cover the fixed costs of the fleet. Thus, the fleet would always operate on the black, with profits coming directly from services actually rendered - no gouging, no bad PR.

Discussion welcome.

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