The US Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy departed Naval Station San Diego today and is now underway to Los Angeles in support of American COVID-19 response efforts.

“This global crisis demands whole-of-government response, and we are ready to support,” said Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy’s Military Treatment Facility commanding officer in a news release.

“Mercy brings a team of medical professionals, medical equipment, and supplies, all of which will act, in essence, as a ‘relief valve’ for local civilian hospitals in Los Angeles so that local health professionals can better focus on COVID-19 cases. We will use our agility and responsiveness as an afloat Medical Treatment Facility to do what the country asks, and bring relief where we are needed most.”

According to a U.S. Navy statement:

“Mercy departed Naval Base San Diego with over 800 U.S. Navy medical personnel and support staff with the afloat medical treatment facility (MTF), and over 70 civil service mariners. The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults. This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their Intensive Care Units and ventilators for those patients.”

Mercy is the first of two Mercy-class hospital ships. A converted San Clemente-class supertanker, Mercy was delivered to the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command in 1986.

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If we’d built these with foreign aid money we could have been sailing them home and providing much needed support to the NHS. So many times me and others have posted on here to build a handful of these, use them overseas but have the option to support our own people when the NHS is stretched. Most of our major cities are on major rivers and have ports most could dock a large hospital ship.

Ian M

Unfortunately, most of our medical / surgical personnel are reservists and are already up to their armpits in alligators in the NHS. We just couldn’t staff them!


But if we already had them working and funded they wouldn’t need additional staff they’d already have a full crew just would need bringing back to UK shores when we have a crisis.


Many of us here on this site have been arguing and fighting for the UK to have 2-3 hospital ships. We have detailed on how they can be paid for/ manned in both peace and war. We saw some glimer of hope and the nnothing. Tell me now what would the UK our NHS its doctors and nurses give to have 2-3 750 bed floating hospitals fully manned. Even if the hospital ships might not be suitable for the current situation they could be used for normal patients whilst the land based could deal with the outbreak of Corvid-19. Out… Read more »


I forgot to say good luck to the crew and medical staff of these floating hospitals.