A 1,000-bed US Navy hospital ship just docked in Los Angeles to increase local healthcare capacity — see inside the USNS Mercy

bchang@businessinsider.com (Brittany Chang)
The USNS Mercy in San Diego on March 23, 2020.

Mike Blake/Reuters

  • The USNS Mercy has arrived in Los Angeles to help relieve the burden that local hospitals have been facing as the number of coronavirus cases in California continues to rise.
  • The ship and its medical personnel will not be treating any COVID-19 patients.
  • The 1,000-bed US Navy hospital ship has the same functions and capabilities as a typical hospital.
  • Its sister ship, the USNS Comfort, is being deployed to New York.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The 1,000-bed US Navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, arrived at the Port of Los Angeles on March 27 to help relieve the burden that local hospitals have been facing as the number of coronavirus cases in California continues to rise.

Over 800 medical staff — including doctors, nurses, mariners, and corpsmen — are aboard the USNS Mercy to provide medical care to non-coronavirus patients in Los Angeles, according to the US Department of Defense.

This will allow local hospitals to focus its resources and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) on COVID-19 patients. Every patient who boards the ship will be screened accordingly.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the state needs another 50,000 hospital beds in order to handle the increase of COVID-19 cases. Los Angeles alone is projected to have a hospital bed shortage of around 17,000, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino told the Daily Breeze.

California's 416 hospitals currently have 75,000 beds. However, an extra 30,000 beds will soon be added across the state with a "hospital surge plan", the Los Angeles Times reported. The state will also be using mobile hospital units to create an additional 3,000 beds, and is now looking into potentially converting motels, hotels, and convention centers into temporary hospitals.

Keep scrolling to see the USNS Mercy:

The medical staff aboard the USNS Mercy will also include 70 "civil service mariners" and 140 volunteer Navy reservists, according to the US Department of Defense.

USNS Mercy at the Port of Los Angeles on March 27, 2020.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: US Department of Defense

Its sister ship, the USNS Comfort, will be deployed to New York.

USNS Comfort in Peru in 2018.

Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

The ship was originally a San Clemente-class super oil tanker before it was converted and finished in 1987, according to the US Navy.

USNS Mercy at the Port of Los Angeles on March 27, 2020.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: US Navy

Mercy is 894 feet long. The beam, the widest part of the ship, is 106 feet long, according to the US Navy.

USNS Mercy at the Port of Los Angeles on March 27, 2020.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: US Navy

It can sail at a speed of up to 12 knots.

The USNS Mercy arriving in Los Angeles on March 27, 2020.

Mike Blake/Reuters

The USNS Mercy — and its USNS Comfort counterpart — has the same functions and capabilities as a typical hospital.

Hospital beds onboard the USNS Mercy in 2015.

Mike Blake/Reuters

The Mercy has a computed tomography — or CAT — scan, four radiology suites …

Emergency room beds onboard the USNS Mercy in 2015.

Mike Blake/Reuters

… 12 operation rooms, an isolation ward, and 80 ICU beds all on the ship.

Quarantine beds onboard the USNS Mercy in 2015.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: US Navy

The blood bank aboard the USNS Mercy can hold up to 5,000 units of blood.

US Navy sailors preparing to sterilize equipment aboard the USNS Mercy on March 25, 2020.

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Luke Cunningham/Handout via Reuters

The USNS Mercy also has a helicopter deck that can handle military helicopters, according to the US Navy.

The USNS Mercy in San Diego on March 23, 2020.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: US Navy

The USNS Mercy is normally stationed in San Diego when it's not actively on duty, according to the US Navy.

The USNS Mercy in San Diego on March 23, 2020.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: US Navy.

In 2005, the Mercy was deployed to Indonesia for humanitarian efforts in response to a tsunami and earthquake that carved its path through Southeast Asia, according to the US Agency for International Development.

Medics and a patient aboard the USNS Mercy in 2005 while at sea in the Indian Ocean.

Rebecca J. Moat/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Source: US Agency for International Development

A year later, in 2006, the USNS Mercy was sent on a 72-day humanitarian trip to the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and East Timor.

USNS Mercy in Indonesia in 2006.

Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

Source: US Navy

In 2013, the Mercy was also deployed to the Philippines to treat the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged through the country, Reuters reported.

USNS Mercy in San Diego in 2013.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: Reuters

The Navy hospital ship was again deployed in 2014 for Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, the "world's largest international maritime exercise," according to the US Navy.

US Navy medics from the USNS Mercy talk with medics from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) while aboard the PLA ship Peace Ark during RIMPAC in Honolulu in 2014.

Hugh Gentry/Reuters

Source:  US Navy

Mercy also recently took part in three 150-day deployments for the Pacific Partnership.

The USNS Mercy in Vietnam in 2008.

Kham/Reuters

The USNS Mercy Pacific Partnership — an annual deployment of the Navy's Pacific Fleet to the Indo-Pacific area for humanitarian missions — deployments were in 2015, 2016, and 2018.

USNS Mercy in San Diego in 2015.

Mike Blake/Reuters

The hospital ship was also deployed for Pacific Partnership missions in 2006 for four months, 2008 for four months, 2010 for five months, and 2012 for four months.

The USNS Mercy in Vietnam in 2008.

Kham/Reuters

Source: US Third Fleet Public Affairs (2006), US Navy (2008), US Navy (2010), US Navy (2012)  

In 2013, the USNS Mercy was awarded with a Peacemaker Award by the National Conflict Resolution Center.

The USNS Mercy in Los Angeles on March 27, 2020.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Source: US Navy's Military Sealift Command

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