From LLoyd's List on-line 02-Sep-05http://www.lloydslist.com
FEMA requests 25,000 cruiseship berths
By Rajesh Joshi in New York - Friday September 02 2005
AS the full extent of the humanitarian dislocation of Hurricane Katrina began to emerge, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency authorised the chartering-in of cruiseships totalling 25,000 berths to house the storm’s victims as well as the support workers on site.
Tim Pickering, cargo officer for the US Military Sealift Command, told Lloyd’s List the comptrollers of FEMA and MSC agreed Thursday that FEMA would provide MSC funding “as needed” to hire the cruiseships for two separate uses. He did not immediately have the total expected to be spent.
MSC, the ocean transport provider for the US Department of Defence, last week (this week) tendered out for cruiseships on FEMA’s behalf. The tender, scheduled to expire Friday morning, was for ships with a minimum of 1,000 berths. Delivery is to be in the US Gulf from Galveston to Pensacola between September 2 and 10.
Mr Pickering said “several” bids were in hand. Depending on their acceptability and the speed at which contracts could be signed, MSC could begin announcing awards at the weekend.
Some ships would be anchored at sites hit by the storm such as New Orleans and Mobile. These would primarily house aid workers, law enforcement personnel and other support personnel.
Since these ships are unlikely to be able to plug into any shoreside facility, a premium would be placed on their efficiency in sanitation and on fronts such as garbage disposal, Mr Pickering said.
Other cruiseships would be located at places such as Galveston, and would serve as a “way station” for the storm’s victims as they start rebuilding their lives. These people will be able to stay onboard while they apply for housing assistance or otherwise arrange for a more permanent residence, Mr Pickering said.
He said the actual breakdown of the ships’ locations and purposes of use were still being finalised with FEMA.
Compass Maritime, the shipbroking concern based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, said it is canvassing for 1,000-passenger cruiseships on behalf of the MSC.
Carnival, meanwhile, said it was in “high-level talks” with US government officials over the provision of assistance to hurricane-hit New Orleans and surrounding areas.
The company had said on Wednesday that Washington had approached it to explore possibilities of using its cruiseships as emergency shelters.
It said although to undertake such an endeavour “would involve many complicated issues”, it was studying the matter.
“It is our intention to work with federal officials to determine the feasibility of moving a ship into the area if that is their desire,” the company said.
Separately, Carnival said its Holiday would resume its sailings out of Mobile, Alabama on Saturday. The Sensation and Carnival Conquest, based in New Orleans, have been shifted to Galveston for the present, the company said.