The tragic events in Japan have evoked a large scale international relief effort as the nation continues to deal with the enormity of the disaster. World-wide, maritime nations have been quick to respond and ships of all types have been deployed off the coast of Japan, providing humanitarian assistance to victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Australian-built ships are among this number, playing their own part in the relief effort.
Both Aomori on Honshu and Hakodate on Hokkaido, the traditional home ports for Incat-built 112 metre catamaran Natchan World, have been hectic. The Hokkaido government has been sending supply and personnel to the region and scenes at the ferry terminal there revealed the scale of the operation to move freight across Tsugaru Strait for onward travel to the worst affected areas.
The Natchan World has been operating for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, making three round trips per day to transport soldiers and their vehicles. Her role is the latest humanitarian deployment for large high speed lightweight catamarans.
In September 2005 Incat-built 98 metre naval vessel HSV 2 Swift further proved its already obvious worth during hurricane recovery efforts in New Orleans. The vessel ferried precious relief supplies between Naval Air Station Pensacola and ships deployed throughout the Gulf Coast region stabilizing areas affected by the hurricane. HSV 2 Swift’s unique design made the high-speed vessel an integral part of the mission by enabling the ship access to depths of less than four metres.
For example, in its initial relief effort, the 40-knot Swift sailed from its homeport in Ingleside, Texas, to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., at least 50% quicker than a conventional ship. The vessel carried 85 pallets of much needed water, plus hygiene kits, food, helicopter maintenance gear and personnel.
The Swift was also called into play during the Israel-Lebanon conflict, being used to transport Humanitarian Assistance Materials from Cyprus to Beirut.
Also in 2005, after the Boxing Day Tsunami, another Incat craft, the 98 metre Normandie Express, made a detour with aid for Indonesia on its delivery voyage from Tasmania to France. That aid project was a joint effort by Brittany Ferries, Incat, the Tasmanian Government and AusAID. Included in the supplies on board were 80 pallets of bottled drinking water, 320 large (including multi-roomed) tents accommodating up to 2,500 people, several donated 4WD vehicles including a fire truck, 40 sewage treatment systems which will cater for many thousands of people, medical supplies, bedding items, baby food and other non-perishable food items.
Incat Chairman Robert Clifford commented, “Like so many others, Incat has been monitoring the situation in Japan, not solely because of the important role of the Natchan World, but also because we enjoy close friendships with the many Japanese people who called Hobart ‘Home’ during the construction of the two 112 metre craft. Our thoughts are with them and their families as they deal with this tragic situation.”