Print  |  Close Window   AMO Currents  -  Posted: February 11, 2010

AMO member applies experience from Hurricane Katrina recovery to Iraq reconstruction mission

American Maritime Officers member Capt. Robert Lansden has more reconstruction experience than most.

Aboard the USNS Pollux in 2005, Capt. Lansden with permission from the Navy used his ship’s resources to provide lifesaving assistance to the people and community of his native New Orleans, La., in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Serving on active duty in the Navy and attached to an Army civil affairs brigade, Capt. Lansden applied that experience to reconstruction work in Iraq. Louisiana-based WVUE Fox 8 recently reported on his accomplishments both in the military and as a merchant mariner.

When Katrina hit New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, the Pollux was docked there for engine repairs. With several hundred thousand gallons of diesel fuel and water onboard, the Pollux was ready to help the people of New Orleans. Using the ship’s resources, the officers and crew of the Pollux provided a variety of critical services and supplies to the devastated community, including kidney dialysis for patients from West Jefferson Medical Center onboard the ship.

“No question about it, the actions of Captain Lansden and the officers and crew of the Pollux saved the lives of those patients,” said Dr. Charles Thomas, a surgeon at the hospital.

Almost five years later, Capt. Lansden employed the experience gained during Katrina to aid in reconstruction of another port city – Basra, Iraq. On active duty, he served as director of the U.S. Army's Civil Military Operations Center, which rebuilds roads, schools and public buildings in some of Iraq’s most dangerous areas. He also served in Iraq as Civil Military Operations chief of the Multi-National Force Southeast in southern Iraq to develop the region’s maritime transportation system, reviving five ports and a major bridge. He was decorated with the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.

A video interview with Capt. Lansden and Dr. Thomas is available on the WVUE Fox 8 Web site.
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