June 24, 2008

Its a Blimp! COOL!

The Coast Guard and Navy are leasing a British airship for patrol duties in the Caribbean.

More here from not-Rueters.

Brickmuppet Blog previously engaged in an above the paygrade rant upon this very topic here.

This is a cool idea that has been toyed with before....  An overview of a notational design (from 1980) for a Patrol Airship for the USCG is here. ( 330 page PDF...not dial-up friendly!)

Info on the versatile and popular Skyship 600 can be found here and here.

The vessel will have  a lot of advantages over  helicopters in endurance and economy, and an  advantage  in  "mast height" and visible horizon over a  cutter  as its sensors can be carried  very high up.



One odd bit of info, possibly a criticism, jumps out at me.
Although the ship has an endurance of 52 hours, patrols will be limited to 8 to reduce crew fatigue. Given the size of the gondola in relation to the 3 person crew,  it seems like little effort to install a few bunks. There may be concern regards providing enough privacy for a mixed gender crew, but if this is the case then it is a great reduction in capabilities for utterly PC reasons. There is no reason that single gender crews couldn't be flown, perhaps an all male and all female crew in a blue and gold (blue and pink?) arrangement.

(Of course, it is quite possible that my knee is just jerking and that there are other issues  that a junior enlisted Marine Science Tech on convalescent leave is simply not privy to.  ) 

On the plus side, the ship is ridiculously fuel efficient, is faster than any cutter (or destroyer) and has far longer range and endurance that a helicopter,  even with the 8 hour time limit.

This is in my humble opinion a stellar idea.

UPDATE: Welcome Information Dissemination readers!

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