The Tortuga III Amphibious Expedition is an ambitious and unique multi-disciplinary venture that combines scientific research, education and humanitarian projects. The expedition is particularly interested in making contact with relevant NGOs, as well as government relief agencies who may see benefit in this concept. Military units involved in humanitarian operations would also partner well.

Aims

Departing from London and finishing in Sydney, it will entail driving and sailing in a 6×6 amphibious vehicle, fitted out as a mobile laboratory and workshop. The journey will encompass a wide and testing range of environments including deserts, rivers, jungles and sea, leveraging the versatility of the vehicle and advances in research tools and techniques to examine crucial issues affecting the planet. These will extend from revolutionary in-field genomic sequencing, hydroacoustic surveying, GIS mapping, as well as aerial and marine Open Source robotics. Several prestigious universities and research bodies are in discussion re partnership with the expedition.

Route

The itinerary will follow one of the traditional Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road routes out of Europe, through Central and SE Asia before crossing the Malacca Strait and island-hopping through Indonesia to East Timor and across the Timor Sea to Australia. The route will prove a challenging testing ground to demonstrate the abilities of the vehicle to perform as a disaster relief asset.

Humanitarian aid element

Humanitarian elements will include small-scale renewable energy projects, solar powered Last Mile health applications such as birthing kits, portable dental clinics, eye care, mobile phone diagnostic tools and vaccine fridges. An on-board FabLab, comprising a 3D printer, laser cutter and router, will enhance the effectiveness of traditional workshop tools embarked.

The vehicles, built in China to a cost-effective and innovative manufacturing process, have been deployed in the country during recent flooding events and proven effective in conjunction with the Chinese Red Cross in delivering supplies to villages cut off by flood waters and surveyed a critical dam wall for damage. Units have also been delivered to the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in Manila for civil defence use.

Last Mile function

Apart from flooding and evacuation assistance, there is also a compelling case to be made for trialling the vehicles as a means of delivering relief material from offshore vessels to island and coastal communities affected by natural disasters. Reprising the role of DUKWs in WWII amphibious landings, Rescue Ducks would be able not only to transfer material ashore but deliver it inland.

Each truck would be equipped with winches and recovery gear to clear roads and access and with a five-ton payload capacity, could complement costly helicopter transfer. Modular configuration is another option, with the ability to fit vehicles as water production units employing solar powered reverse osmosis equipment and medical clinics as a first response effort. Units would be as self-supported as possible and readily fuelled from support vessels so as to provide maximum, rapid effect.

The expedition is particularly interested in making contact with relevant NGOs as well as government relief agencies who may see benefit in this concept. Military units involved in humanitarian operations would also partner well.

Next steps

Any NGO, government agency representative or commercial partner interested in learning more should contact expedition founder, Rick Coe on tortuga3expedition@gmail.com