In the military, it’s all hands on deck in tackling COVID-19. That includes Navy hospital ships.
Currently, two hospital ships are docked and helping overwhelmed hospital systems care for patients during the current COVID-19 crisis.
These two Mercy-class Navy hospital ships are appropriately named Mercy and Comfort. While the USNS Mercy docked in Los Angeles to assist with non-Coronavirus cases, the USNS Comfort docked in Manhattan on March 30 to serve COVID-19 patients.
Since the early 2000s, these two ships have provided disaster-response and humanitarian-assistance missions both here and abroad.
Here’s a look at the facts about these unique U.S. Navy floating hospitals:
1. Navy Hospital Ships Are Fully Operational Hospitals
Both Navy hospital ships offer similar settings as a regular on-land hospital. Each ship has 1,000 beds, 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, digital radiological services, a medical lab, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, and a CAT-scan. An estimated 71 civilians and up to 1,200 medical and communications individuals staff the ships when fully loaded.
2. Five Days to Operational Readiness
Both ships are kept in a reduced operating status in Norfolk, Virginia and San Diego, California. During these periods, a small crew of civilians and active duty Navy medical and support personnel maintain the ships. Within five days of a request, both ships can head out to provide medical assistance.
3. Both are Serving Second-Life Missions
Back in 1986, the USNS Mercy was modified from its previous state as the oil tanker SS Worth and turned into a Navy hospital ship. The USNS Comfort was also a former San Clemente-class oil tanker. Both were built by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego, California.
4. Both Ships Have Major Power
Both ships are hardly small. Coming in at a length of 894 feet, both are as long as nearly three football fields lined up in a row. And with 24,500 horsepower, the ships can move nearly 20 miles per hour.
5. Army Reservists Have Almost Doubled the Pharmacy Staff
As of April 13, U.S. Army Reserve pharmacists joined the medical team aboard the USNS Comfort to almost double the pharmacy staff. The Reservists came in to provide extra support for local health officials and New York City residents.
6. Worldwide Deployments Keep the Ships Busy
Both ships stay busier worldwide than they do stateside. Together, the ships have treated over 550,000 patients and have sailed 19 Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief missions. Of those, only two were in the United States. After Hurricane Katrina, Comfort took up residence in the Gulf Coast to treat patients in Pascagoula, Mississippi and New Orleans. In 2011, she docked in New York City to treat 9/11 victims. Mercy made three 150-day deployments in 2015, 2016, and 2018.
U.S. Navy Hospital Ships are Symbols of Care and Hope
There’s no doubt that when you see the Navy’s hospital ships coming into view that hope is on its way.
On watch and at the ready, the individuals staffing the Mercy and Comfort are absolutely a part of the world’s bravest force — the U.S. military. At a moment’s notice, the personnel of these two ships must be raring to go to face some of the world’s toughest humanitarian and disaster-stricken areas.
From earthquakes to hurricanes and pandemics to terrorist attacks, the Mercy and Comfort personnel are ready to provide the best healthcare and medical support individuals could ask for during any given crisis.
Here at Sandboxx, we give our biggest thanks to the crew members of those ships working around the clock to keep our country safe.
What fun facts do you know about our nation’s Navy hospital ships? Share in the comments below, especially if you’ve served on one!
Feature image courtesy of U.S. Navy. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey L. Adams