Open source media is reporting that the Port Au Prince Airport is Jammed. Not surprising. Pre-earthquake, it typically handled 25 flights a day. As of 1500 EDT, that number stood at 55.

In a DOD Bloggers Roundtable this afternoon that USNI Blog participated in, the Air Force guests said the airport only had 2 fuel trucks and two towbars.

Can someone spare a fuel truck or towbar? If so, please let SOUTHCOM know. Thank you!

Don’t make me start a bake sale to get the Haitians some more fuel trucks and towbars.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Foreign Policy, Navy

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    No aircraft landing in Haiti should need fuel. GITMO, as well as several other major airports, are less than 100nm away. If anything, all the C-130s and other aircraft should be leaving every extra gallon they can in Haiti and then flying to somewhere else to refuel.

  • Jim Dolbow

    so totally agreed. thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Cap’n Bill

    Take a look at the pictures of broken loading cranes at the small port. Visualize the difficulties in bring the port back to operation. Consider the difficuklty of bringing material ashore on small boats, Where is the aviation fuel tank farm? Helicopter maintenance will become a problem…maybe handle at NAS GITMO, What about availability of local workforce. Ecurity throughout the area must be a concern. Who is in charge of the many groups of foreign helpers? How best to reconstitute the Haaitian government? W O W !

  • SoldiersDad

    Having attempted many moons ago to due ‘High Flow’ aircraft handling with one tow bar and one fuel truck I would say the only solution is to use the taxiway as the unloading ramp. Nose in parking is too much trouble.

    And as USNVO says…the planes need to carry enough fuel to gas up elsewhere.

    Good luck

  • Andy (JADAA)

    Added to the mess were all the very well meaning and quick-to-react aircraft operators who flew in ahead of the USAF ATC folks who parked their aircraft all over the ramp, pretty much anywhere they wanted. This became a ramp-blocking mess once the 130’s came in with the Advance Party. The Haitians at the airport were trying, but it was, I’m told, utter chaos; this initially hampered things considerably. The NOTAM is out: Don’t depart for PAP without sufficient fuel on board for return. Which, unfortunately, means that at 6#/gal of JP, that’s often 6#’s less of supplies you can carry in per gallon of fuel.

    As I posted over at Lex’s place, back about Career 2.5 or so I worked in a Navy-Coast Guard program that sent people to PAP port during the regime change in the Clinton admin. Even as a fully-functioning port, it was a huge challenge. Until the salvage divers, CB’s, Port units and others can get lighters, cranes and the like in there, it’s going to be whatever the amphibs have on their flight decks and well-docks going to whatever pads and beaches they can find to off-load stuff. This is NOT like heading into a Strategic Port of Debarkation in the least.

    An open question for the electronic and print media on the ground in Haiti: I see you walking through the crowds and devastation. If you can get through, that means you can carry supplies. Why aren’t you?


  • We have been told the fuel farm is OK, but prospects for resupplying it are poor at this time. There is ramp damage, but the support services remain the biggest holdup, AF Mobility Command group arrived last night with more “stuff” which hopefull included generators, tow bars, etc. Airport is open 24 hrs as electric is on.

  • JV

    As usual a damn shame that no Marine Wing Support Squadrons or USAF Red Horse Civil Engineer units are being sent. I’ll never understand why we send grunts instead of units equipped and trained to manage airfields and infrastructure.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    The case study on Grenada at AFSC (JFSC or sompin now) emphasized just this point, and was part of the “road show” presentation in 1990.

    In defense of the poor TPFDD mechanics laboring in the 3rd subbasement at TRANSCOM somewhere, this is not a tailored OPPLAN, this is winging it to the max. Somebody send them 10 big cans of Chock Full O Nuts and big box of walnut brownies. It ain’t like they’ve gotten any sleep in the last 48, or will get much next week. Pizza and GI multipurpose grind, fresh day before yesterday, I assume they’ve got. A defib machine might be nice sometime tomorrow too.

    Maybe after it’s all over, TRANCOM actual will take them and the spouses out and buy ’em all a big steak dinner. Maybe.

    Anyway, a shout out from Gramps. Keep punchin’, mes enfantes.

  • Jim O’Connor
  • sid

    GITMO is problematic because of its very complex approach…not everybody is certificated to do it, and it can’t handle any kind of volume. And you would drain their fuel quickly as well.

    Different aircraft types require different types of towbars. Besides, the usual method of pulling up to gates isn’t the way to do business in this situation.

    At any rate, every commercial operator would do well to fly at least their first flight in with a fly away kit.

    Better to set up a ramp scheme akin to that at Tempelhof.

    With that, airstairs and k loaders (or catering trucks for that matter) would be whats needed. Easy enough to load into a some C-17s (when they can be spared from those Hawaii vacations at least).

    In this case, fuel delivered at the airport is a problem. Makes you wonder how they dealt with the problem 60 years ago in Berlin.

    Again, depending on aircraft type (and where its coming from), tankering through enough gas to get to at least Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Kingston/Montego Bay, or even San Juan or Miami should be feasible and still carry useful loads. That said, no Caribbean airport has a surfeit of fuel even on the best of days…And they very often run short.

    Won’t go into specifics, but “ramp congestion” is often a problem with government administered charters even during the most benign CONUS conditions. Somebody at Scott should give it some thought.

  • sid

    In defense of the poor TPFDD mechanics laboring in the 3rd subbasement at TRANSCOM somewhere, this is not a tailored OPPLAN, this is winging it to the max.

    Gramps, back in 1948, Hickam based VR-8, and Guam based VR-6 were given 48 hours notice that they were headed to Germany. The squadrons had to collect thier aircraft from Travis to Iwakuni in that time and head to Points East.

    From the logbook I have from the period, VR-8 was flying missions into Berlin 10 days later after changing out aircraft in the states.

    All that at ~180 kts IAS and less than Angels 10 in their R5D’s I might add…

    Because the navy squadron organizations were set up to deploy quickly with their own support, they quickly bested the USAF in performance once on scene.

    That was then though. Today, the military must rely on commercial operators to provide the bulk of the lift in situations like this.

  • sid
  • Grandpa Bluewater


    To be expected. Then. NATS (Naval Air Transport System). Mostly forgotten, more’s the pity.

    There are some whitehaired very old men, veterans of the Hump, the first Combat Cargo (insignia a heavily loaded jackass with wings like Pegasus flying over a mountain) who refer to the rest of the airlift in the AAF, the ATC (Air Transport Command), as the “allegic to combat” to this day. Nobody ever beat them in primitive field air logistics, likely nobody ever will. Equally unknown and unremembered.

    VR aviation in the WWII Pacific, at their best, rates even honors with Combat Cargo in the CBI (china, burma, india theater).
    Somebody needs to pick the brains of the line chiefs and loadmasters of both groups, while we still can.

  • david kerr

    C-130s could have flown at 500 ft, just off shore and crew chiefs kicked out cut open boxes of bottled water. Like Operation Little Vittles in 1949, small packages of food could have been dropped without hurting anyone.

  • We heard that a big part of the problem was lack of parking for aircraft, while they were being unloaded and that the issue was that they can’t unload the planes quickly enough due to space issues. If they could keep more airplanes on the ground for a longer period of time, throughput could be increased.

    We proposed using DuraDeck parking mats (www.duradeckmats)(readily and economically available for rental or purchase) to expand the useable area of the airport for additional parking, pallet storage, and unloading areas but you know how it is……no-one to talk to at SouthCom or the CRG wants to listen to this unique (and obvious).