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Hospital Ships Deployed

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In an historic move, America's Mercy-class hospital ships have been deployed to New York and Los Angeles. These giant floating hospitals have served in conflict zones worldwide as well as in support of natural disaster relief. The ships were built from converted supertankers, are nearly as long as three football fields placed end to end, and have a displacement equivalent to that of the Japanese battleship Yamato. Each is a self-contained 1000-bed hospital equipped with 12 operating rooms and complete laboratory facilities. Bon Voyage fellow medics, an old Army 'Doc' salutes you!

 

 

 

Edited by Snargfargle
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While a good move, I heard there is the issue of manning the ship with nurses and doctors, as there is no permanent contingent on the ships iirc.

Edited by warheart1992

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3 hours ago, warheart1992 said:

While a good move, I heard there is the issue of manning the ship with nurses and doctors, as there is no permanent contingent on the ships iirc.

That is a significant concern.  And frankly, this concern would be the same if the federal or some state or city government set up some new "temporary" hospital (even if it had all the required hardware).  I suppose that the government could ask (or beg) ex-doctors and nurses to return to help, but I suspect that that's only bring in only a small percentage of the needed medical professionals.   I suppose that the government could ask existing hospitals to each contribute a small number of doctors to help out at such local "temporary" hospitals too.

But in the end, there's really only so much that can be done because the supply of trained doctors and nurses is not unlimited.  And the crap really starts hitting the fan when the number of patients exceeds the capabilities of the medical system's resources, both human and technical.

 

Side note:  I might be wrong, but I thought that I'd heard that it was the intention to use the hospital ships as overflow for non corona virus related patients.  Let's face it.  Just because the CV has hit doesn't mean that all other sorts of medical problems have miraculously disappeared.  People are still having heart attacks or broken bones or whatever else that requires a trip to the hospital.

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12 minutes ago, Crucis said:

 

Yes, the idea is to use them for trauma cases and lessen the load on the local system. This is what they are designed for.

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4 minutes ago, RipNuN2 said:

Yes, the idea is to use them for trauma cases and lessen the load on the local system. This is what they are designed for.

In the grand scheme of things, I don't know if these two hospital ships have enough capacity to be more than a spit in the wind.  But at the same time, I think that it's a necessary move to use them because not using them would make it look like the government wasn't doing everything it could possibly do in this crisis.

It just occurred to me that I wonder if the military/government has plans already in place emergency situations sort of like this one, to deal with the medical staffing for these two ships.  I'm not really worried much about the staffing for the ship itself, since if push came to shove, the Navy could just use personnel from other Navy ships.  It's the medical personnel that's probably more difficult to get.

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4 minutes ago, Crucis said:

 

For these very large cities it isnt a big contribution but every bit helps. The army can deploy a number of large field hospitals though if needed. 

The medical personnel is an issue as you don't want to call up staff from the reserves who are already needed in their own communities. This also takes more time than the physical activation of the ship.

Edited by RipNuN2

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2 hours ago, Crucis said:

the supply of trained doctors and nurses is not unlimited

Side note:  I might be wrong, but I thought that I'd heard that it was the intention to use the hospital ships as overflow for non coronavirus related patients.  

There are plenty of military medical personnel available as there are no major conflicts or overseas disasters going on at the moment. Remember too that these ships are capable of being deployed with a five-day notice to anywhere in the world. And you are correct, the ships are tasked with taking some of the burden off local hospitals by seeing non-virus-related patients.

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2 hours ago, Crucis said:

It just occurred to me that I wonder if the military/government has plans already in place emergency situations sort of like this one

The federal government is in the process of staffing several temporary emergency hospitals in the most-hit areas.

Quote

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency began converting the Jacob K. Javits Center today into 1,000 temporary hospital beds for coronavirus patients. The Army Corps of Engineers will also construct temporary hospitals with 2,000 additional beds at the State University of New York’s Stony Brook and Old Westbury campuses, and at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.

 

https://commercialobserver.com/2020/03/nyc-coronavirus-temporary-hospitals-javits-center/

Edited by Snargfargle

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On 3/25/2020 at 10:02 AM, warheart1992 said:

While a good move, I heard there is the issue of manning the ship with nurses and doctors, as there is no permanent contingent on the ships iirc.

The USNS Mercy was my ship during the first Gulf War. Since they are US ships in naval service, the ship itself is manned by Merchant Marines and the hospital is staffed with a cadre crew of active duty Navy personnel. When the ships are activated, they take on a full hospital staff of Navy reservists and foreign allied medical personal (usually Canucks). It generally takes a few weeks to get a full crew onboard as well as getting the ship fully supplied. Course that was then, this is now and since 9/11 both ships have been on almost constant active duty so getting them deployed will take a far shorter time. Mercy was in port for post deployment repair (think painting and maintenance that can not be done at sea) and some upgrades to their hospital equipment. 

Shipboard operations like running the engines and sailing the ship are all done by our Merchant Mariners and they have their own chain of command. The ship lacks a "normal" Captain of the vessel, instead he is called "Master". The "hospital" part of the ship, is commanded by the CO, usually a Medical Corps officer who holds the rank of Captain. It can be confusing to people not familiar with the Navy's rank structure. The cadre crew keeps the hospital in a low grade "mothball" state during times of peace with orders to be able to bring the ship onto active service within a weeks time. When activated, the ship takes on supplies and crew (both MM and Navy reserves) and can be out of port in days. En route to wherever they are heading, they will take on more supplies and people until the full complement is reached. It all sounds far more complicated than it truly is as the US Navy has hundreds of years of experience doing this same thing. The Navy reserves are drawn from our "ready reserves" who train monthly and our "inactive reserves" who have recently gotten off active duty (this was the case for me). The jobs you do on the ship are the same jobs you do at every naval medical command so all you really have to learn is where you eat, were you sleep, and where you report to work. It is an elegant system that works well. Barring some equipment malfunction, both ships will be on station, fully staffed and supplied, on the date given by the US Navy. 

BTW I almost forgot. There is also a small contingent of US Marines attached to both ships. This was something done for Desert Shield because there was a fear that without a normal complement of Navy sailors, the ships would be forced to relinquish command to a small boarding party of enemy combatants. During a normal conflict where both sides were signatories to the Geneva Accords, this really wouldn't be much of an issue since hospital ships are protected and are required to give medical care to each side. However with the first Gulf War, the concern was terrorists so they added US Marines to protect the ship and crew. This was continued post 9/11 attacks for all their deployments. 

Edited by Taylor3006
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No matter how they are used, it's a good move. It will allow the people on land to handle the CV situation without having their focus  taken off it to deal with the other issues. Crucis is correct, there will still be the immediate care issues and i am sure those will still be handled in the ICU of whatever hospital is closest, but this will free up quite a bit of bed space, I think. That on its own can't be a bad thing.

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24 minutes ago, Taylor3006 said:

BTW I almost forgot. There is also a small contingent of US Marines attached to both ships. This was something done for Desert Shield because there was a fear that without a normal complement of Navy sailors, the ships would be forced to relinquish command to a small boarding party of enemy combatants. During a normal conflict where both sides were signatories to the Geneva Accords, this really wouldn't be much of an issue since hospital ships are protected and are required to give medical care to each side. However with the first Gulf War, the concern was terrorists so they added US Marines to protect the ship and crew. This was continued post 9/11 attacks for all their deployments. 

Retired USMC here, I had come in during 1993.  You reminded me of "the oldest mission of the Marine Corps" that it no longer does, the MARDET / Marine Detachment on USN ships.  Shipboard security, various missions to send Marines ashore for, and a tradition on crewing some of the weapons, even on the old Battleships when they were in service.  USMC stopped doing that mission in the late 90s for some reason and you started seeing more USN personnel doing security and all that.

 

in WWII they'd pull Marines off MARDET from the ships to go participate in the numerous landings in the Pacific.  I remember reading stories where the Marines were preparing to leave the Battleship they were stationed on to board a landing craft for the Okinawa landings.  One of the Marines' friends from the USN said good luck, he joked back that they'd be fine, it's the Japanese that were looking for the biggest ships to shoot or crash into :Smile_trollface:  There's also a little story that there were Marines in those various US Navy ships supporting Operation Overlord, but they weren't going to embark landing craft for landings.  This was the Army's show.  The US Marine Corps and the Army had a... strained relationship at the time in those decades with anyone that was old enough to have been an officer from WWI :Smile_popcorn:It even bled into the post-WWII years and President Truman, a former Army artillery officer back in WWI, hated the Marine Corps :Smile_teethhappy:

"The Marine Corps is the Navy's police force and as long as I am President that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin's." - President Truman

https://www.usni.org/magazines/naval-history-magazine/2019/june/propaganda-machine-stalins

Though I think all the services were trying to cover their rears in 1947 at the expense of other services.

 

I remember years ago mentioning MARDET even on Carriers and such, guys doing drills and all to younger Marines in my shop but it felt like I was speaking Greek to them.  None of them were in service when the USMC did a lot of that stuff for the US Navy.  I wondered why that mission ended, it's not like the Marine Corps did MARDETs before while still engaged in larger, prolonged land campaigns.

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42 minutes ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

"The Marine Corps is the Navy's police force and as long as I am President that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin's." - President Truman

There might be something to be said about that. Is Marine training any tougher than Army training? Or do the Marines habitually serve in more dangerous capacities than the Army? Also, for every "elite" Marine unit can't you also can find an equivalent Army unit? I truly don't know. It's weird but I've met very few Marines, though I've met a lot of members of other services and most of my uncles and cousins were Army. The only Marine I currently know is the daughter of a girl I went to High School with. I asked her how she likes the Corps and she said "It's a job."

Of course, there is a reason why the US has separate uniformed branches of the military and it's not just tradition either. It's so that they could never be a  successful military junta in America.

Speaking of the US uniformed services. Does anyone know which the smallest one is? Hint: it's not the Marines or the Coast Guard.

 

Edited by Snargfargle

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“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.”
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/37113-some-people-spend-an-entire-lifetime-wondering-if-they-made

 

The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!
Eleanor Roosevelt
https://www.azquotes.com/quote/373699

They (Women Marines) don't have a nickname, and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine Post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.
LtGen Thomas Holcomb, USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1943

http://oldcorps.org/USMC/quotes.html

A Ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons.
Adm. David Dixon Porter, USN in a letter to
Colonel Commandant John Harris, USMC, 1863
http://oldcorps.org/USMC/quotes.html


There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.
Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army
http://oldcorps.org/USMC/quotes.html

"Semper Fidelis"

 

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1 hour ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

Retired USMC here, I had come in during 1993.  You reminded me of "the oldest mission of the Marine Corps" that it no longer does, the MARDET / Marine Detachment on USN ships.  Shipboard security, various missions to send Marines ashore for, and a tradition on crewing some of the weapons, even on the old Battleships when they were in service.  USMC stopped doing that mission in the late 90s for some reason and you started seeing more USN personnel doing security and all that.

As a corpsman, you can imagine my relief in seeing jarheads being assigned to the ship to protect us. Up to that point, we kind of figured if we got boarded that we would end up being hostages without the legal ability to protect ourselves from whatever crapbags that managed to get aboard. We had some MA's but figured a couple of those armed with shotguns and pistols were not much help against what was out there. Seeing leathernecks roaming around the decks with actual weapons, was a huge boost to morale and our feeling of security, especially since we were required to keep the ship lit up like a Christmas tree and sailing around in a circle once the shooting started. Prior to that, we were sailing with the "invasion fleet" headed towards Kuwait so felt safe in the company of the fleet. Once everything started to go down, all we had was some Saudi boat that trailed along behind us.. Nothing says safety and security to a US sailor than the Saudi Arabian Navy..................... 

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7 hours ago, Snargfargle said:

There might be something to be said about that. Is Marine training any tougher than Army training? Or do the Marines habitually serve in more dangerous capacities than the Army? Also, for every "elite" Marine unit can't you also can find an equivalent Army unit? I truly don't know. It's weird but I've met very few Marines, though I've met a lot of members of other services and most of my uncles and cousins were Army. The only Marine I currently know is the daughter of a girl I went to High School with. I asked her how she likes the Corps and she said "It's a job."

Of course, there is a reason why the US has separate uniformed branches of the military and it's not just tradition either. It's so that they could never be a  successful military junta in America.

Speaking of the US uniformed services. Does anyone know which the smallest one is? Hint: it's not the Marines or the Coast Guard.

 

If you had asked me that question when I was an 18 year old fresh out of Marine Recruit Training, I'd have said yes, because it sucked.  Now that I'm older, I know the services have their own way of doing things to get what they want.  I never went through any training nor inter-service schools with the Army, nor have I even worked with anyone from the Army.  So I can't say.

I will say that Marine Recruit training sucks and if it didn't, the Drill Instructors did the Marine Corps a disservice.

 

As for roles that suck, I worked in the Air Wing for the Marines so I never kicked in doors and cleared rooms or stuff like that.  So my job in the Corps is safer, compared to some Army reservist that got called up and shipped out to Iraq or Afghanistan and do patrols.  But the Marine Corps, especially with the long history of being on the Navy's ships, has a history of dirty little brush ups like the Banana Wars in the early 20th century, etc.  The Navy is already out there with some Marines, so to the US gov't, it's convenient.  Banana Wars was literally conflict for the sake of the profits of fruit companies.  It was so distasteful that a revered member of the Corps and two time recipient of the Medal of Honor, MGen Smedley Butler, developed a hatred for it.  Two years after he left the service, Butler wrote the book, "War is a Racket." 

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

Smedley Butler is still held up as one our most revered members in the USMC despite his fallout with the Corps towards the end of his time.  Every new Marine knows about him and a select few others (Samuel Nicholas, Chesty Puller, Pappy Boyington, etc):Smile_popcorn:

But it was during those dirty conflicts that the USMC developed experience with small unit and jungle warfare, something that would come up very soon.

 

The USMC's modern tradition is force in readiness with the US Navy.  Marines on amphibious groups of the USN.  I lost track how many times the Marines were used in that capacity in the 1980s and 1990s with the MEUs / Marine Expeditionary Units.  We literally still have such groups sailing around.  They're normally going around doing training, exercises with different countries, but they're also on the call at any time to go off and do something that the gov't wants.  Somalia in the early 90s was an example, the Marines were the first major ground components in country.  But later when the mission got larger and more prolonged, the US Army took over there.  Even in the Middle East, before Gulf War 1 in the early 90s, the Corps had a lot of history there during the 1980s, i.e. Beirut, etc.

 

The Marine Corps also has a funny history with "elite" formations, i.e. it doesn't like them standing out.  Yes, we got our Recon Marines, Scout Snipers and all, but no significant formation is held up on a pedestal by their history.  We have formations that have long history, i.e. 1st Marine Division's combat history is extensive, but it's not held up on a pedestal.  For the Corps, it's about the history of the Corps and no unit is held high at the cost of the service, if that makes any sense.  You can actually see this in our uniforms.  We have no unit patch or a scroll.  The Corps doesn't.  Maybe in the past but not anymore, most especially after WWII.  This SgtMaj for example in his Service Alphas.

Spoiler

121115-M-ZZ999-109.JPG

No unit emblems, patches, scrolls.  The only thing you may decipher about what he does are by occupational badges that are universal like jump, naval aviator wings, etc.  You may also tell what they generally do by their ribbons, but not down to an exact unit.

Even in the Air Wing, our Sergeants Major almost all came from a background in the combat arms.  When they were in Service Alphas or Dress Blues, there was no indicator of past unit history, only when you looked at their ribbons, medals could you get a rough idea, i.e. he was in combat arms or not in his past, because only certain awards are attained from doing certain occupations.

6 hours ago, Taylor3006 said:

As a corpsman, you can imagine my relief in seeing jarheads being assigned to the ship to protect us. Up to that point, we kind of figured if we got boarded that we would end up being hostages without the legal ability to protect ourselves from whatever crapbags that managed to get aboard. We had some MA's but figured a couple of those armed with shotguns and pistols were not much help against what was out there. Seeing leathernecks roaming around the decks with actual weapons, was a huge boost to morale and our feeling of security, especially since we were required to keep the ship lit up like a Christmas tree and sailing around in a circle once the shooting started. Prior to that, we were sailing with the "invasion fleet" headed towards Kuwait so felt safe in the company of the fleet. Once everything started to go down, all we had was some Saudi boat that trailed along behind us.. Nothing says safety and security to a US sailor than the Saudi Arabian Navy..................... 

I'm still not on board with how the USMC stopped doing MARDET.  That is like... The reason why the Marine Corps came about in the first place.  Some of the other, old Marine services in other countries still do that, but we don't anymore.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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Its so bad, The ARMY Core of Eng. want to convert existing building to "modified"  Covids beds...

 

 

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8 hours ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

"War is a racket. I

The USMC's modern tradition is force in readiness with the US Navy. 

The Marine Corps also has a funny history with "elite" formations,

  Reveal hidden contents

121115-M-ZZ999-109.JPG

I'm still not on board with how the USMC stopped doing MARDET.  

Very informative post.

There are a lot of people who make a lot of money off of war but then again the flipside is that it gives people jobs too. Members of my family have worked for Boeing and other aerospace companies since WWII. Building bombers was the thing that got my Dad's family out of poverty as Grandad was a sharecropper who still farmed with mules before the war. My other grandpa went from running a small local "greasy spoon" cafe to starting a local exchange during the War and eventually getting some military contracts for missile silos that allowed him to expand his business into a pretty substantial telecommunication company, which my brother now owns and operates. Not to mention all of the myriad things that are now used in civilian life that began as military technology.

I can see how you would think that removing the Marine detachments from Navy ships would be a bad thing as that's really the traditional role of Marines, dating back to the age of sail. However, I wonder if the Navy doesn't now do more combat-type training? And then there are the SEAL Teams have become such a big thing in the special ops community.

Speaking of Special Ops, most civilians seem to think that they are all small-unit strike teams like they see in the movies. However a lot of them are intelligence gathering and training units. My boss in the Army was an SF master sergeant and spent fifteen years in Southeast Asia way back in the mountains gathering intelligence and training locals before he got shot in the knee and was profiled out to the regular army, where he became a PA.

Also, speaking of Special Ops. Because of Hollywood, civilians sometimes deem to think that the Special Ops are "super troops," while rest of the military is barely competent. However, in the regular army there were plenty of soldiers who had picked up parachute, martial arts, scuba, riot control, and demolition training. Not to mention that most of the officers and higher-ranking sergeants wore ranger tabs. 

Of course, the Army SF have worn their "green beanies" while in garrison for several decades now. Other units must have been jealous because the regular army started to issue berets for everyone. What was it -- tan for the rangers, red for the airborne, and black for everyone else? I thought this a bit silly but as Napoleon said, "Give me enough colored ribbon to pin on my soldier's tunics and I can conquer the world."   

The US seems to be using a lot of mercs (which the government calls "contractors") lately to fight wars in politically-dubious conflict zones. This allows presidents to truthfully say things like "No US servicemen were involved," or "The Army has no feet on the ground."

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18 hours ago, Taylor3006 said:

The USNS Mercy was my ship during the first Gulf War.

:cap_like:Thanks for sharing your experience and for the very informative post.  

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