The US amphibious assault ship, USS Essex, is moored off the coast of Burma, prohibited by the military government from swinging into action to help cyclone victims. The BBC's Nick Bryant reports from aboard the ship.
"Hurry up and wait," is almost the unofficial slogan of the American military. It can
be deployed with rapid speed in virtually any corner of the planet - and then wait there for days, weeks, sometimes months until given the order and opportunity to fulfil their mission.
In the choppy waters of the Andaman Sea right now, that mission carries the operation name "Caring Response", and involves a four-boat US naval task force which sits just 60 nautical miles off Burma's low-lying Irrawaddy Delta.
Helicopters loaded with aid could get there within 30 minutes. Landing craft, which sit within the bellies of these massive amphibious assault ships, would take less than an hour.
Water purifying machines, ambulances, heavy trucks, medical teams are ready for the
off. Tens of thousands of gallons of life-saving drinking water are just over the horizon from the Burmese coastline.
BBC News, Saturday, 17 May 2008 22:27 UK
I'm proud that we can respond like this. The Iron Gator is one of the best examples of what our Armed Forces can and should do.
I'm appalled that it's so difficult.
I'm afraid that the Myanmar junta is probably using this natural disaster to turn the Irrawaddy delta into a bunch of expensive resorts, luxury hotels, and prize estates in a few months. Once the surviving farmers are "relocated" to Texas.
"Disaster capitalism, Naomi?" Indeed.