America’s Hospital Super Ships Mobilized for Covid-19 Relief
March 31, 2020
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
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In any great natural disaster, America is typically the first to provide help. When the great Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn visited America, he said, “The United States has long shown itself to be the most magnanimous, the most generous country in the world. Wherever there is a flood, an earthquake, a fire, a natural disaster, an epidemic, who is the first to help? The United States. Who helps the most and unselfishly? The United States.”

In 2011, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in an address to the U.S. Congress: “There is a reason the world always looked to America. Your city on a hill cannot be hidden. Your brave and free people have made you the masters of recovery and reinvention” (William Bennett, “America the Generous,” CNN, Dec. 15, 2011).

The U.S. Department of Defense is one of the world’s largest providers of international aid and disaster relief.

For example, the United States Navy operates two massive hospital ships,
USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort, which are tasked to support U.S. armed forces as well as to provide medical aid and humanitarian assistance. “Both serve as 70,000-metric-ton symbols of how much America cares as a nation and as a people” (“Hospital Ships,”

In March 2020, they were assigned to assist in the covid-19 crisis,
Comfort docking in New York City and Mercy in Los Angeles. “In addition to the hundreds of U.S. Navy and civil personnel already aboard the ships, more than 100 reservists are being called up to help with the unprecedented emergency virus treatment. ‘When we were asked to help find medical professionals to help support this mission, we received hundreds of volunteer requests from our Reserve medical community in less than 24 hours,’ said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Schommer, deputy commander of Navy Reserve Force. ‘That’s extremely humbling.’ Indeed, America’s volunteer warriors are inspiring us with their willingness to step forward at great risk to their own health. Like doctors, nurses, first responders, delivery workers and countless others, the brave men and women of our military are performing brilliantly amid the uncertainty of a rapidly evolving public health crisis” (“Military’s Coronavirus Response Should Make All American’s Proud,” The Stream, Mar. 27, 2020).

The ships are huge, the second largest in the U.S. Navy fleet after the supercarriers and the fifth largest ships in the world. Converted from oil supertankers, the two ships originally cost $560 million.

The ships are 894-feet long (the length of three football fields) and the height of a 10-story building.

Each ship is a 1,000-bed hospital that carries 700 medical personnel at full capacity. Each has 12 operating rooms, four intensive care wards, an emergency/triage room, full medical labs, pharmacies, and are equipped with the latest technology such as CAT scanners and digital X-ray. They offer radiological, optometry, and dental services. They have their own medical oxygen producing plants, blood banks with a 5,000 unit capacity, and water distilling plants (300,000 US gallons per day). A flight crew operates the ship’s helicopter pad which can handle the Navy’s largest helicopters. Kitchens can provide meals for 1,000 personnel.

They assist in natural disasters such as the Southeast Asia tsunami of 2004 and the Haiti earthquake of 2010. On a visit to Southeast Asia in 2010, the
USNS Mercy treated 109,754 patients and performed 1,580 surgeries. In 2015, the USNS Comfort provided care for more than 120,000 patients (including 1,200 surgeries) in 11 countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America. These projects are funded by the U.S. government with assistance by volunteer medical personnel and supplies donated by private organizations.

U.S. Marines are stationed around the world for rapid military deployment, but they also use this capacity to provide quick humanitarian aid in time of disaster. No other nation has this capacity. The Marines even have a medal called the Humanitarian Service Medal.

“... no one in the history of the world can declare that they have made such great strides in providing aid and relief like the Americans. ... Say what you want about us, but without that aid provided by hundreds of thousands of American service people and hundreds of millions of taxpayers, millions upon millions of people who have been fed, vaccinated, operated on, given shelter, given homes, bathed, birthed, and listened to would now be dead. Many more would not experience the quality of life they now experience” (Jon Davis, “Some mind-blowing facts about the U.S. military,”

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