USN officer's report from the USS Lincoln


Guest Column: No Relief in Sight for the Lincoln

By Ed Stanton

It has been three weeks since my ship, the USS Abraham Lincoln, arrived off the Sumatran coast to aid the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami that ravaged their coastline. I’d like to say that this has been a rewarding experience for us, but it has not: Instead, it has been a frustrating and needlessly dangerous exercise made even more difficult by the Indonesian government and a traveling circus of so-called aid workers who have invaded our spaces.

What really irritated me was a scene I witnessed in the Lincoln’s wardroom a few days ago. I went in for breakfast as I usually do, expecting to see the usual crowd of ship’s company officers in khakis and air wing aviators in flight suits, drinking coffee and exchanging rumors about when our ongoing humanitarian mission in Sumatra is going to end.

What I saw instead was a mob of civilians sitting around like they owned the place. They wore various colored vests with logos on the back including Save The Children, World Health Organization and the dreaded baby blue vest of the United Nations. Mixed in with this crowd were a bunch of reporters, cameramen and Indonesian military officers in uniform. They all carried cameras, sunglasses and fanny packs like tourists on their way to Disneyland.

My warship had been transformed into a floating hotel for a bunch of trifling do-gooders overnight.

As I went through the breakfast line, I overheard one of the U.N. strap-hangers, a longhaired guy with a beard, make a sarcastic comment to one of our food servers. He said something along the lines of “Nice china, really makes me feel special,” in reference to the fact that we were eating off of paper plates that day. It was all I could do to keep from jerking him off his feet and choking him, because I knew that the reason we were eating off paper plates was to save dishwashing water so that we would have more water to send ashore and save lives. That plus the fact that he had no business being there in the first place.

My attitude towards these unwanted no-loads grew steadily worse that day as I learned more from one of our junior officers who was assigned to escort a group of them. It turns out that they had come to Indonesia to “assess the damage” from the Dec. 26 tsunami.

Well, they could have turned on any TV in the world and seen that the damage was total devastation. When they got to Sumatra with no plan, no logistics support and no five-star hotels to stay in, they threw themselves on the mercy of the U.S. Navy, which, unfortunately, took them in. I guess our senior brass was hoping for some good PR since this was about the time that the U.N. was calling the United States “stingy” with our relief donations.

As a result of having to host these people, our severely over-tasked SH-60 Seahawk helos, which were carrying tons of food and water every day to the most inaccessible places in and around Banda Aceh, are now used in great part to ferry these “relief workers” from place to place every day and bring them back to their guest bedrooms on the Lincoln at night. Despite their avowed dedication to helping the victims, these relief workers will not spend the night in-country, and have made us their guardians by default.

When our wardroom treasurer approached the leader of the relief group and asked him who was paying the mess bill for all the meals they ate, the fellow replied, “We aren’t paying, you can try to bill the U.N. if you want to.”

In addition to the relief workers, we routinely get tasked with hauling around reporters and various low-level “VIPs,” which further wastes valuable helo lift that could be used to carry supplies. We had to dedicate two helos and a C-2 cargo plane for America-hater Dan Rather and his entourage of door holders and briefcase carriers from CBS News. Another camera crew was from MTV. I doubt if we’ll get any good PR from them, since the cable channel is banned in Muslim countries. We also had to dedicate a helo and crew to fly around the vice mayor of Phoenix, Ariz., one day. Everyone wants in on the action.

As for the Indonesian officers, while their job is apparently to encourage our leaving as soon as possible, all they seem to do in the meantime is smoke cigarettes. They want our money and our help but they don’t want their population to see that Americans are doing far more for them in two weeks than their own government has ever done or will ever do for them.

To add a kick in the face to the USA and the Lincoln, the Indonesian government announced it would not allow us to use their airspace for routine training and flight proficiency operations while we are saving the lives of their people, some of whom are wearing Osama bin Ladin T-shirts as they grab at our food and water. The ship has to steam out into international waters to launch and recover jets, which makes our helos have to fly longer distances and burn more fuel.

What is even worse than trying to help people who totally reject everything we stand for is that our combat readiness has suffered for it.

An aircraft carrier is an instrument of national policy and the big stick she carries is her air wing. An air wing has a set of very demanding skills and they are highly perishable. We train hard every day at sea to conduct actual air strikes, air defense, maritime surveillance, close air support and many other missions – not to mention taking off and landing on a ship at sea.

Our safety regulations state that if a pilot does not get a night carrier landing every seven days, he has to be re-qualified to land on the ship. Today we have pilots who have now been over 25 days without a trap due to being unable to use Indonesian airspace to train. Normally it is when we are at sea that our readiness is at its very peak. Thanks to the Indonesian government, we have to waive our own safety rules just to get our pilots off the deck.

In other words, the longer we stay here helping these people, the more dangerous it gets for us to operate. We have already lost one helicopter, which crashed in Banda Aceh while taking sailors ashore to unload supplies from the C-130s. There were no relief workers on that one.

I’m all for helping the less fortunate, but it is time to give this mission to somebody other than the U.S. Navy. Our ship was supposed to be home on Feb. 3 and now we have no idea how long we will be here. American taxpayers are spending millions per day to keep this ship at sea and getting no training value out of it. As a result, we will come home in a lower state of readiness than when we left due to the lack of flying while supporting the tsunami relief effort.

I hope we get some good PR in the Muslim world out of it. After all, this is Americans saving the lives of Muslims. I have my doubts.

Ed Stanton is the pen name of a career U.S. Navy officer currently serving with the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group. Send Feedback responses to
1) its a galley or scran hall

2) WTF's this guy on, are all yanks so self greed!! they always think "they" are doing everything
Anya1982 said:
1) its a galley or scran hall

2) WTF's this guy on, are all yanks so self greed!! they always think "they" are doing everything
1) the US probably use different slang & terminology, so get your knickers out of your arrsecrack.

2) err, well, the aid's being delivered using US ships and US planes, and the UN is trying to claim that it's them that's doing it. So the US /is/ doing practically everything.
Anya, never mind what that guy is on WTF are you on! That is about the most up to date and factual assesment of this whole debacle i have seen to date.

Actually USN use the same naval term's as we do. Its a all over world thing.

We have british armed forces out there. HMS Chatham is one of them and I know there's army out there.

All i am saying is USA claim they do it all. Like iraq and the most famous one "WW2" cus of course we'd be speaking german by now if it wasn't for them cus they won the war!
Anya, i think your way off here.

The yanks have put their lives on the line and pumped in lots of resources and manpower into helping these people recover from what is most likely a hell on earth.

What thanks do they get from all these relief workers, indonesian army officers and some of the locals?

NO THANKS, their resources, help and time taken for granted, and some little ignorant twats wearing OBL t-shirts whilst they take food parcels from the hands of US sailors and soldiers.

So much for hating the great satan!, there quire happy to take their food parcels and stab them in the back :evil:

I think they deserve our utmost respect (At least as much as we have for OUR servicemen and women out there helping the locals)


Book Reviewer
Anya - if you haven't got something sensible to say, then STFU :evil:

OK, that over, I do hope that this article gets reprinted in the British Media - but of course it won't, as it gives the lie to the Dear Leader's assertions that the UN is some sort of tin god.

I wonder how much of our 'charidee' money goes to transporting all these useless freeloaders?

Good points about losing combat effectiveness as well. Most people don't realise that an Armed Force has to train - hard and continuously - to be any good at their job. Time spent doing other things, no matter how worthy, mean you will be less good at your main role.
I'm not slating america i just meant that they don't seem to register over people helping sometimes.

I got family in the usmc's and army and listening to them half the time you'd know.

I know they put alot of hard work and effort out there and i never said a bad thing about it. I respect them for it and hope everything goes well.

Slate me all you want and try to make out that i have said something i ain't but its an opinion like many other people on here it maybe wrong and i stand to say sorry
Anya1982 said:
All i am saying is USA claim they do it all. Like iraq and the most famous one "WW2" cus of course we'd be speaking german by now if it wasn't for them cus they won the war!
Well lets face it: if you have any idea how big a carrier group is, you would realise how much they are doing.

We would NOT have won the war without Uncle Sam ( and Uncle Joe as well, but thats another issue. )

Read what the bloke says - the civvies are treating a warship and its facilities in a pisspoor manner - taking up helicopter space, getting fed and declining to pay for it, etc etc.

Good on Uncle same for getting stuck in, and top marks to "Ed Stanton" for showing what the do-gooders are actually doing.
well if the USN arn't happy with civvies taking over, kick them off. Its plain and simple. they are housing them out of "good will" and if its taken advantage then put a stop to it
Im not a big fan of the septics, but i really hate the freeloading do-gooders in the so called 'Aid Agencies'.
Not a dig at you anya.

you are entitled to your ideas, but you being from the navy would know how hard life is on a ship, and having civvies on board taking advantage of your help/hospitality whilst getting no thanks and stabbed in the back, doesnt make it any easier.

I know what a pain it is but i also know if there are civvies on board taken advantage and we didn't like it they never stayed long!

If the USN don't like it end of day they invited them so uninvite them.

Thats what RN would do
wardroom is same as scran hall/galley just named wardroom thats all. apart from its their mess where as we have our mess's seperate. Wardroom you have to be invited to and can't walk in. Even the captain has to be invited. To that state they can be uninvited so why rant on that people arn't happy etc when it be quicker to say bye to them?
It's all very well saying " just throw them off" and "the RN would do this", but unfortunately in the politicised world we live in, the Captain of the ship would do what he was told by the Admiralty (or US equivalent), who would be dictated to by TCH (or Don Rumsfled).

As both of the affore mentioned slippery barstewards both want to show the ever helpful/friendly side of their armed forces, i very much doubt if they would allow the captains to just throw them off. I think it would be more along the lines of "suck it up!" 8O
ah good point, forgot about that.

But to a certain extent they can only take so much. If the civvies are on a government own property they'd have to abid by these rules, or is usn diff in that sense?
The Captain has his orders to follow about providing hospitality to these self-aggrandising,freeloading scum who believe that the sun shines out of their nether regions and who have nothing but contempt for service men and women,either patronising them or treating them as fascist murderers.He will also wish to maintain the service traditions of politness and hospitality even to people that he might wish to push off his flight deck with heavy weights attached to them.The US Navy will simply do its duty to the best of its ability and receive not only no thanks but criticism of the way it is "imperialistically" helping ordinary people to survive when their own corruption-ridden governments could not give a funkey's muck about anything but their own advantage.

Makes my blood boil :evil:
excellent article, reaffirms my belief of "Aid Agencies".

will the Beeb pick this - not likely.

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