Large MIlitary Hosptial Ships (Non-Chinese)

Jeff Head

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This thread is about large hospital ships of the world. Non-Chinese because we can have a separate thread specifically for Chinese hospital ships.

When I say large, I mean any Hospital Ship over 16,000 tons.

I will start with the USNS Mercy Class hospital ships of the US Navy.

These ar HUGE hospital ships displacing over 65,000 tons, almost 900 feet long, and with a beam of 106 feet.

There are two of them:

USNS Mercy, T-AH-19, based out of San Diego, CA
USNS Comfort, T-AH-20 based out of Norfolk, VA

Next to the US Navy nuclear powered aircraft carriers, they are the largest US Navy ships afloat.

In July 1984, during the Reagan years, the US Navy decided it needed larger and better hospital ship accommodations. So, the US Navy purchased a San Clemente-class tanker, the SS Worth, that had been built by National Steel in 1976, and did a complete conversion and overall of her into a modern, very well equipped, and very large hospital ship.

She was launched in 1985, and then commissioned and then commissioned in November 1986, 28 months after her rebuild commenced. While this was occurring, a year after the start of the USNS Mercy, a second San Clemente-class tanker was purchased and converted into the USNS Comfort, which was commissioned in 1987,

They are extremely well outfitted with the following:

Operating Rooms: 12
Intensive care wards: 80 beds
Recovery wards: 20 beds
Intermediate care wards: 280 beds
Light care wards: 120 beds
Limited care wards: 500 beds
Total Patient Capacity: 1000 beds

Emergency/Trauma Casualty reception,
Sterile receiving,
Radiological services,
Main laboratory plus satellite lab,
Medical supply/pharmacy,
Physical therapy and burn care,
Dental services,
Optometry/lens lab,
Oxygen producing plants (two),
Medical Photography,
Four distilling plants making drinking water from sea water
- 300,000 US gallons (1,100,000 l; 250,000 imp gal) per day

See my Flickr Album:

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Here are a few more pictures. Lots more at the link.





Jeff Head

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Great topic, Jeff. I love and am so proud of these ships, especially the men and women who crew them. They bring world-class medical care to nearly every corner of the world, at no cost to the patients.
They are amazing vessels...but not the only ones.

Several nations have dedicated hospital ships outside the US and China.

Brazil, the UK (which converted the Argus to be a Causality Receiving Vessel), Spain, Russia, Indonesia...

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Naval Today said:
USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) had embarked on Partnership 2016, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

According to the U.S. Navy, this year’s mission will include more than 600 military and civilian personnel from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Born out of the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of Southeast Asia, Pacific Partnership began as a military-led humanitarian response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters.

Now in its 11th year, this year’s mission will be led by Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, embarked on the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).

Pacific Partnership 2016 will include mission stops in five partner nations throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The partner nations will be announced before mission begins in June.

As for the ship that will be in charge of this year’s mission, the USNS Mercy is one two hospital ships owned and operated by Military Sealift Command provide emergency, on-site care for U.S. combatant forces deployed in war or other operations.

The hospital ships’ secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.

Both hospital ships are converted San Clemente-class super tankers. Mercy was delivered in 1986 and Comfort in 1987. Normally, the ships are kept in a reduced operating status in Baltimore, Md., and San Diego, Calif., by a small crew of civil service mariners and active duty Navy medical and support personnel. Each ship can be fully activated and crewed within five days.

USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) each contain 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000 bed hospital facility, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen producing plants.

Each ship is equipped with a helicopter deck capable of landing large military helicopters. The ships also have side ports to take on patients at sea.
My son in law, who is 14 year career US Navy, and served aboard nuclear submarines for nine of those years, went through Medical Officer training (and college) funded by the US Navy, and is now a Naval Officer aboard the USNS Mercy.

We're pretty proud of him, as his wife (our oldest daughter) and his three sons!

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Naval Today said:
The annual Pacific Partnership deployment embarked aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Kuantan, Malaysia thereby marking the first time the mission has visited Malaysia, although Malaysia has provided teams to support the mission since 2006.

Malaysian civilian and military leadership led planning activities for Pacific Partnership 2016, where personnel from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the U.S. will work side-by-side with the their Malaysian counterparts, conducting subject matter expert exchanges to improve regional disaster preparedness and resiliency, focusing on multilateral cooperation.

As the fourth mission stop of Pacific Partnership 2016, specific activities include a search and rescue (SAR) seminar followed by a live SAR exercise, medical seminars, civil engineering projects and community service events.

The Pacific Partnership engineering team consisting of U.S. Navy Seabee and Malaysian Armed Forces engineers will renovate two schools while in Kuantan.

Pacific Partnership’s first visit to Malaysia highlights the evolving nature of the mission from past Pacific Partnership missions.

“The unique nature of [the mission] is how this really is an exchange of professionals, of partners,” said Cmdr. Miguel A. Gutierrez, Pacific Partnership’s director of medical operations and planning. “In every country we’ve been to there have been different levels of medical capabilities. Malaysia, by all accounts, has world class medical capabilities, so our big thing here is a focus on high-end medical exchange.”

Kuantan will not only be host to Pacific Partnership 2016, but will simultaneously host the Asia Pacific Military Health Exchange (APMHE) symposium. Mission medical personnel from Medical Treatment Facility Mercy will participate in the symposium, attending lectures both ashore and hosted aboard Mercy.

Pacific Partnership 2016 completed missions in Timor Leste, the Philippines, and Vietnam, with an additional mission operating simultaneously in Palau until Aug. 15, led by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel aboard JS Shimokita (LST 4002).

Upon departure from Kuantan Pacific Partnership 2016 will make its final stop in Indonesia.
My son in law, who for years was an enlisted man, rising to the Ranks of Chief, on nuclear attack subs, is on this vessel now as a medical officer.

The US Navy put him through school and he is now a Lt. JG medical officer now and went on this deployment.

That is one BIG ship, second in size only to the carriers. A one thousand bed hospital with many operating rooms and all of the modern equipment.

Jeff Head

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If you want to know just how big the US Navy Hospital ships (USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort) are...all you need to do is take a look at this one pic.


In the US Navy, only the US nuclear carriers are bigger.

My son-in-law just got back from his six month deployment aboard the USNS Mercy...three kids and a wife were sure happy to see him home.