Book 3 chapter 25
Morning brought better news. Two fleet carriers from California and four more assault landing ships were off the coast of Oahu. Admiral Petty now had one hundred twenty landing craft to rescue people from the island.
The landing crafts were carrying them to the assault ships for evaluation and then those that needed medical attention were the first to be carried to the carriers.
The hospital ship Mercy was to arrive on the scene later today. The Mercy has 1100 beds and five hundred medical people aboard to add to the doctors and staff. When it arrived those needing medical would be transferred to it.
The east coast hospital ship ‘Comfort’ was going to be a month or more. It had to undergo repairs before it could be used. That I was infuriated was an understatement. My new Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense were going to be called to my office for a very unpleasant talk on their part.
Just to make sure they understood things, I sent a memo to SECNAV, a daily report was to be sent to the White House listing all Navy ships unavailable for immediate service, the reason why and an expected date they would be ready for service. The Air Force was sent a memo requiring the number of aircraft mission ready to be sent to the White House.
It also finalized my decision on what was going to happen to the USS Thomas as soon as the new nuclear-powered Thomas was ready for service. It would be the hospital ship the ‘Thomas’ and would be home ported in the Gulf for quick dispatch to either ocean. The Navy had already placed it on the SINKEX list to be sunk as a target.
Another deck could be built on the aft half of the flight deck adding hundreds of beds. The hangar deck could all be hospital rooms and the same with many other decks.
There were huge rooms for storage, it already had plenty of operating rooms and plenty of electrical power. It could travel to an emergency at thirty -five knots – twice the speed of the current hospital ships. It was the perfect ship.
When the helicopters were not needed for emergency medical transport, they were shuttling people to the carriers, which had enormous space in the hangar deck for cots.
Two of the cruise ships, ‘Silver Spoon’ and the ‘Golden Nugget’, had arrived at 1100 and began taking on the civilians from the carriers that the doctors deemed well enough to go. Helicopter flights from the carriers to the single helicopter pads on the cruise ship were continuous. It was anticipated that the Silver Soon and the Nugget would leave for California at 1600 with eight thousand survivors on board.
At 1630 two more cruise ships had made the journey ‘The ‘Pacific Wave’ and the ‘Catalina Bay’ were taking on passengers. At 1700 we had today’s planning session with all the departments. Reports from all the services at Hawaii gave a bleak picture; the volcano was still erupting but showing signs that it was possibly ending.
The lava output had dropped but the steam and gasses had increased. There were fears from the experts that a deep-water fissure had opened, allowing sea water to enter the core of the volcano. if that was the case, the lava flow would be cooled allowing it to solidify, possibly sealing the vent and temporally stopping the eruption, allowing it to build tremendous explosive pressure again.
The other possibly was it would open up an underseas path for the lava to escape. There was also the fear that a new volcano or volcanic island was in the making.
We had serious decisions to make regarding the survivors on the ships. It was determined that as soon as the cruise ships were filled to capacity, each would return to San Diego, unload and return. Camp Parks had thirty thousand empty cots. These would be used initially for the survivors. The hunt was on for places to house thousands long term.
A lot of the homeless that had been sent there had found jobs and recovered enough to be in housing other than the camp. The empty tents were still there; It wasn’t the Hilton, but they were going to have to put up with it – at least until we knew and understood the extent of damage to Hawaii.
They were going to need long term housing, but the big question was – how many survivors were there and where were we going to find it?
There were already those quietly saying the island of Hawaii would have to be abandoned and that it could be years before Oahu could be fully inhabited again. There were more questions than answers. I gave all those departments heads a list of questions I wanted answers to for tomorrow’s 0800 briefing. Troy had requested an hour at 1000 for a news conference.
To improve the possibility of finding survivors on island of Hawaii, there had to be a method of scouting the island and deal with the deep ash. The Seabees at the California Marine base had been ordered to deploy yesterday against opposition from the brass. They were a day away from arriving.
With breaks in the ash, steam and clouds, the satellites were able to collect some data. It was determined that the ash was between six feet and eight feet deep in places. MRAPS and tracked vehicles as well as helicopters were currently out of the question.
The only way to do a reconnaissance was going to be with front end loaders moving ash while making paths where the streets were thought to be. The consensus was that we had to deal with the ash like it was snow. Given the depth, front end loaders and bulldozers would be needed and the Seabees had them.
The Army and Marine troops were still using the bunkers on Oahu. Generals were wanting them withdrawn. I ended that thought; as long as there was food and sanitation, I wanted them to stay and not take up precious space on the rescue ships. Another thing was they were going to be needed to help search the island.
After the briefing my staff began the task of preparing for our vacation next week. Lorrie had left a block of two weeks that all the rental units would be empty for staff, security, Secret Service, limited media and our families.
During our stay at the Cay there were two fund raisers planned – one in Georgia and the other in South Carolina. It was a start to getting enough funds for the expensive midterms.
There were two dozen of the opposition party I would like to see gone and if I could help do it, all the better.
At 1700 the Secret Service came in with the report from the discovered tunnels by the White House. There were twenty seven pages of items discovered in the old tunnel.
‘’The tunnel construction was started during James Monroe’s first term around September 1817 and closed at the beginning of Chester Arthur’s term in January 1881 – we think. Based on that, seventeen presidents could have used the tunnel.’’
‘’From the number of artifacts, the tunnel was used a lot more than as a secret escape for the president. We have found indications that the carriage house was the largest in Washington, having as many as one hundred stalls and storage for carriages.’’
‘’We found sixty seven coins with an 1812 penny being the oldest, lost by the miners – we think by its location – in between the floor planks that were covered with straw and sawdust. There were five gold pieces and then other coins.’’
‘’Halfway through there was a room that was added after the initial construction. To us it looked like a rest stop for all those overweight presidents during that time.’’
‘’We found several of the coins in there along with tools and what we think was a liquor cabinet. There were several whisky bottles in it, empty of course. There were some things that make us suspect it may have been as illicit meeting place. I won’t go into a description of what they were.’’
‘’There were also a few newspapers and campaign posters nailed to the wall from various presidents. The archives are going to try to save them, but we think they are too far gone.’’
‘’The door that opened into the White House basement that was removed when the entrance was closed off with brick was laying inside the side of the tunnel. It was still in good shape. The Smithsonian wants it for an exhibit. As they do all the artifacts along with all the photographs. I think you will have the final word on that,’’ Agent Finkelsburg said. Denton Finkelsburg was the White House Historian.
We talked for the better part of an hour about what they had found before I sent him on his way.
I was up at 0500 – my mates all had a busy day – myself included. At 0600 I was reading intelligence reports and the latest updates from Hawaii. There was an update from the CIA on the Africa Problem. The group headed towards Polokwane has slowed down their travel.
On the Hawaii problem the ‘Golden Nugget’ and the ‘Silver Spoon were scheduled to dock after midnight tonight. Hundreds of school busses had been contracted to carry the survivors to camp parks. The ships were to refuel, take on food and supplies and then be sailing back towards Hawaii by noon
I received an update from the general staff and Admiral Petty.
The two cruise ships that were there would be filled to capacity by 1000, the Navy thought. Aircraft operations has been suspended at 2000 for safety reasons. One was the small dangerous helicopter landing pads on the cruise ships and also the need for the helicopters to be inspected.
The ‘Oasis of the Seas’ arrived after midnight – there were complications, it had no helicopter landing pad and no catwalk steps up the side. The
shipfitters ship fitters, machinist and welders on the carriers were planning and manufacturing and thought they had a solution. At daybreak they would know if it would work.
The carriers had big machine and repair shops and welding equipment – anything necessary to keep the ship on its duty station and fighting.
At daybreak two more cruise ships were arriving – the ‘Mexican Pacific Delight’ and the ‘Baja Express’ – both were capable of carrying 5500 passengers each and both had helipads.
Twenty thousand had been carried to the cruise ships and another ten thousand were in bunkers and waiting on the assault landing ships and carriers.
At 0100 Hawaii time the eruption petered out. The lava stopped, but the volcano was still belching steam and gasses that had picked up in volume. On the next satellite pass there should be pictures that we could work with.
The 0800 staff meeting was filled with directors and the Secretary of Defense was in attendance. There was heated discussion about where to put all the people coming in on the ships. Camp parks were filling fast. By now thousands of cots, tents and supplies were showing up at the San Diego Navy base. It only made sense to build more in California.
Camp parks were to be expanded using those materials. There was room to put up tents to house twenty-five thousand more people. It was decided that Camp Pendleton would be the next camp city. Pendleton base was on 130,000 acres. Building the tent city there for a hundred thousand people in a hurry would be an undertaking, but it needed to be done.
All the forces were directed to start putting the city together as an all-hands effort. The leadership teams that had built Camp Parks were to lead the effort and get the logistics starting immediately.
There were a hundred thousand military members ordered to start work at daybreak. The materials needed to be moved from the Navy holding yard to the camps. Luckily, it was on pallets to speed things along
FEMA was ordered to send the rest of their stockpile to Camp Pendleton today. The rest of vendors that the utilities used for hurricane recovery were waiting for orders to come to work. Dozens were already on site. Those vendors supplied everything to keep a tent city going. Thousands of good things were happening today.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.