As responders flowed into the city, the retired aircraft carrier Intrepid was called into service as an emergency center. Operating as a museum and display facility, the ship cleared her massive flight deck to make way for emergency services, including helicopter-landings. She was rigged with up-to-date communication gear, to establish command and control capability directing rescue and recovery efforts. Intrepid was so successful as an emergency center in this crisis, that she has been permanently retrofitted and is now included as a key part of Homeland Security’s emergency preparedness resources. Ranger is larger than Intrepid and can provide a secure space for a Regional Emergency Response and Management Center in the event of natural disasters or acts of terrorism.
Size and varied on-board facilities make Ranger a unique emergency preparedness center. Her 4.5-acre flight deck can accommodate staging for emergency helicopters, involved in search and rescue or transporting emergency supplies and personnel to outlying areas affected by a disaster. It could also hold rescue equipment, FEMA-style trailers, which hold command and control equipment as well as food, water and medical supplies needed in any variety of emergency.
The ship already has on-board communication systems, which can be upgraded to include state-of-the-art satellite, cell and radio gear. Ship elevators between floors remain operational. The 60-bed hospital can be activated as a triage facility, staffed by first responders and follow-on medical personnel. Ranger has significant storage capacity, able to hold emergency supplies for both local and regional needs. Those supplies could include all form of non-perishable materials from medical to building to communication. A safe and secure holding facility, she may also help public agencies hold down costs. Use as temporary housing may also be an important need in the event of emergency, such as a major earthquake in Oregon. There are 6000 beds aboard and the ship has potable water storage capacity in excess of one million gallons.
In light of all these potential uses, Ranger could also serve as a site for training first responders and conducting drills.