The first deliveries of American aid arrived in Georgia yesterday aboard a US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS McFaul.
The McFaul’s 31-foot draught was apparently so vast, compared to a cargo vessel, that she was unable to enter the civilian port of Batumi and was unloaded by a floating crane instead.
“Yes, it’s a darned shame we had to unload these essential humanitarian supplies so far away from the eyes of the press,” grinned President George W. Bush. “We just couldn’t get hold of a freighter for love or money. Would you believe it, this week is a religious holiday for sailors all over the world, apparently! Or something. So it’s a good job our destroyers were designed with such large mag- sorry, cargo holds.”
The stencilled crates of humanitarian aid - kindly donated by US companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, McDonnell Douglas, Standard Missile Company and Extreme Caution NBC Hazard – were enthusiastically unloaded from the crane platform in a remote corner of the harbour by green-uniformed Georgian dock workers, and loaded swiftly but carefully onto a fleet of squat, windowless green vehicles, which drove off rapidly towards South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Two more US warships are on their way, carrying essential equipment which will be used to help the Georgians deliver aid quickly and with surgical precision where it is most needed. The A-10 ‘Thunderbolt’ cargo plane, for example, carries up to ten tonnes of stand-off humanitarian aid on 11 external hardpoints; while the M1 ‘Abrams’ cargo transporter can traverse the muddiest roads on its tracks, and appears to mount some sort of rotating crane to help with unloading - which can even be carried out at night with pinpoint accuracy, thanks to its state-of-the-art laser-guidance and infra-red vision systems.
“The US is a world leader in the design of humanitarian aid delivery platforms,” boasted President Bush, “And I’d particularly like the Russians to be aware of this.”