Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Roebling was right. Modern rescue agencies wrong.

Check out this passage from ibiblio.org on the LVT.
Another vehicle which was to play a vital role in the amphibious operations of World War II was the amphibian tractor (amtrack, LVT). It was built in 1935 by Donald Roebling, a wealthy young inventor living in Clearwater, Florida. The "Alligator," as Roebling called his creation, was a track-laying vehicle which derived its propulsion afloat from flanges fixed to he tracks, essentially the principle of early paddle-wheel steamships. Originally intended as a vehicle of mercy, for rescue work in the Everglades, the "Alligator" was destined for fame as an instrument of war.
Make note of those humble beginings.  The vehicle was originally designed for rescue work in flood prone areas.  Hurricanes are a recurring problem in the southern US and the amphibs designed by Roebling were and are the answer to rescuing people during severe flooding.

 Fast forward to today and instead of buying or asking for amphibs from the Army or Marine Corps, most of our countries first responders are begging for MRAP type vehicles. 

This type truck does no good for the type of conditions that our fellow Americans are facing on the eastern sea board.  The REALLY sad thing about all this is that the US Army has several thousand first generation M-113's that are nimble (they can turn in a much shorter distance than MRAP's), can be equipped with band tracks to increase mileage and if fully restored are amphibious.

 Don't get me wrong.  The M-113 is still a weapon of war, but like the LVT it can be re-purposed toward fulfilling a major hole in our disaster response.

Flooding is too common in the US for Federal and State Disaster Response Agencies not to have amphibious vehicles in their arsenals.  If anything this illustrates a lack of proper planning and thinking outside the box. 

The next time a major hurricane hits the US, it would be nice to know that FEMA, the National Guard or some other agency had the tools necessary to rescue people that chose poorly and didn't heed evacuation notices.


  1. Back in the 50's and 60" our town had flooding regularly Our town used a rescue vehicle painted in Civil Defense colors and it was dukw.
    I believe the MRAPS are either surplus or the rescuers are expecting IEDs instead of floods.

    1. that's another vehicle that can be had for pennies. as far as painting them in Civil Defense colors i think that's awesome. either that or fire red or rescue yellow but my point is that i don't think an MRAP with rescue on the side is legit.

  2. If you want a model, you want something like the old Alvis Stalwart, maybe based on the Stryker if you want commonality.

    Civilian stuff needs long range, high speed road trafficability and large load carrying capability. Not to mention that FEMA will deal more with road clearance, snow or debris, than with flooding. In military use it could basically replace the M548 as well as serve specialty purposes for the engineers and USMC.

    1. i was aiming for an off the shelf solution. better yet something we have in storage. that's why i like the M113 with band tracks. they can be easily trucked into the area of need and can be given plows, or blades to move stuff to get to survivors. the M548 would be good for pure personnel moves but i like the smaller more nimble m113 as my jack of all trades.

  3. I think that you may be a bit off target as far as US first responders begging for MRAPs. I thought that the Marine Corps, in particular, wanted to reduce the build order and the legislators overrode that request in order to bring home the bacon.
    The USG was "swamped" with MRAPS and has been giving them to any state or local agency that could fill out the grant paperwork. It's not too hard to find one or two tucked away in a county garage. On the local level, you are the hero if you can get free stuff.
    As to the premise of the article, you are absolutely correct. Some type of utilitarian vehicle for traversing debris, swimming or fording and an over-snow capability would be practical.

  4. Golly, if only each state had a military organization that could respond to national disasters. Oh, wait.

    Seriously, Sol, that's a great idea. I remember when we had a blizzard back in the 80's in Minnesota, the governor called out the National Guard to use M113's to rescue stranded travelers. These were the only vehicles suitable for the snow drifts.

    You could use the National Guard's logistics systems to maintain and support M113s dedicated for only disasters or civil unrest. A National Guard armory could co-ordinate with local law enforcement, fire departments, county sheriffs, Red Cross chapters and develop plans.

    A good radio, GPS, some basic food and medical supplies and you'd have a great rescue platform. Not to mention, you could retrofit each with a winch and the ability to generate electricity.

    Utilize the ambulances, recovery vehicles and command vehicles to support the rescue vehicles.

    With all of the M113's being retired and or in mothballs, it would be easy to provide each state with a few dozen vehicles.

  5. your using common sense...and speaking about the goverment at the same time. thats not allowed.

    the 113 would be perfect. as would using the reserve track units, there is one such unit in va, or move some of those units up from Court House Bay. 2nd tracks has a whole bn at home...with a whole bn worth of tracks that would love to have a purpose. oh wait. that makes sense.


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