The Navy operates two hospital ships: USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort. The Navy is planning to retire one of the two as part of the 2019 budget. Perish the thought of cancellling an LCS but retiring a hospital ship is just fine.
ComNavOps is not a big fan of presence, deterrence, or soft power but if you’re going to conduct soft power operations a hospital ship is about the best example there is. It’s hard to imagine a bigger positive impact than providing advanced medical care to areas of the world that lack it.
Here’s a few facts about the ships (1).
“When not in use, these ships operate with a skeleton crew. But in as little as five days, each can be converted into a 250-, 500- or 1,000-bed mobile hospital with a crew of 1,200 Navy Physicians, Nurses, Corpsmen, Technicians and support staff. These are some of the most highly trained medical personnel in the world – working together as only a Navy crew can – with the skills to handle primary, trauma, pediatric and orthopedic care. Each ship has 12 operating rooms, with specialized trauma centers and post care-unit beds included.”
Here’s a few highlights of Mercy’s career from the official Navy website (1).
USNS Mercy was built as an oil tanker, SS Worth, by National Steel and Shipbuilding Co.,
, in 1976. Starting in July 1984,
she was renamed and converted to a hospital ship by the same company. USNS Mercy
was commissioned San Diego 8 November 1986.
27 February 1987 , MERCY began a training and humanitarian cruise to the Phillippines
and the South Pacific. The staff included Navy, Army, and Air
Force active duty and reserve personnel; U.S. Public Health
service; medical providers from the Armed Forces of the U.S. ; and MSC civilian mariners. Over 62,000 outpatients and almost 1,000
inpatients were treated at seven Philippine and South pacific ports. MERCY
returned to Philippines , on Oakland, CA 13 July 1987.”
9 August 1990 , MERCY was activated in support of Shield. Departing on
15 August, she arrived in the Operation Desert Arabian Gulf on 15 September. For the next six months, MERCY provided support to the
multinational allied forces. She admitted 690 patients and performed almost 300
surgeries. After treating the 21 American and two Italian repatriated prisoners
of war, she departed for home on 16 March 1991 , arriving in on 23 April. USNS
MERCY is currently homeported in Oakland .” San Diego, California
USNS Comfort, like Mercy, was built as a sister oil tanker and converted to a hospital ship. Comfort is based out of
and has had a career similar to
The Navy will do anything to keep building worthless LCS vessels but a ship that actually helps people and enhances
’s reputation is going to be
retired. Where’s the logic? America
We’ve all but officially acknowledged that war with
is coming. Do we think there won’t be casualties and
lots of them? Hospital ships will be
desperately needed – the LCS won’t be.
So, which one are we cutting? China
The Navy has an endless string of bad decisions and this is the latest and one of the most egregious.