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US Navy Hospital ship re-design

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  • US Navy Hospital ship re-design

    After recently reading some articles about new possible designs for USN hospital ships, I thought I would ask the Armchair Admirals what they would replace the USNS Comfort and Mercy with. Would you go with a one-for-one option or go with many smaller versions? Remember a hospital ship is not supposed to be based on a warship hull, so if you decide to go that route you would need to explain what changes you would make to make sure it is not misidentified as a warship.

    https://www.wearethemighty.com/next-...ip-ferry-sized

    and

    https://news.usni.org/2018/04/13/nav...valuation-team

  • #2
    I'd put a nuclear reactor in it so it could provide both power and potable water.
    Credo quia absurdum.


    Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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    • #3
      One for one. More smaller ships are not cheaper because the infrastructure (crew, maintenance) are not reduced in proportion.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bwaha View Post
        I'd put a nuclear reactor in it so it could provide both power and potable water.
        Don't need a nuke to do that, and you make it a potential terrorist target unless you want an entire security company aboard.

        By definition, a hospital ship is a single entity capable of providing whatever is needed to care for casualties, so a single ship option seems better than multiple smaller ones, keeping in mind that air-evac sends a lot of troops directly to Ramstein/Landstuhl in Germany.
        Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
          Don't need a nuke to do that, and you make it a potential terrorist target unless you want an entire security company aboard.

          By definition, a hospital ship is a single entity capable of providing whatever is needed to care for casualties, so a single ship option seems better than multiple smaller ones, keeping in mind that air-evac sends a lot of troops directly to Ramstein/Landstuhl in Germany.
          Adding to this point, the type has become synonymous with humanitarian missions and not likely to be a real military need short of a great power confrontation outside the major European or Asian theaters.

          As such, consider it more a tool of diplomacy and soft power than the military support role it once filled.

          My two cents.
          Any metaphor will tear if stretched over too much reality.

          Questions about our site? See the FAQ.

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          • #6
            If it up to me it'd be a variant of one of these:



            The actual ship would have some facilities aboard to act as a hospital ship, but the majority of the facilities would be installed in modular assemblies in standard shipping containers. These could be unloaded by helicopter or crane and moved by truck or helicopter to a shore location where needed. The containers would assemble into a portable hospital, urgent care, clinic, etc., depending on the needs of the situation.

            Other containers would house supplies, food, fuel, and such to support the primary operation.

            The whole idea would be to get away from a specialized medical ship to what might be called a mobile base ship. When it deploys to a humanitarian crisis, disaster, military operation, etc., it arrives and is able to quickly establish an entire base facility to allow CB's, Marines, Army, and civilian agencies to all have a working facility that can handle medical, infrastructure, command and control, and military operations needs.

            The containerized component can be tailored to the operation instead of being a "one size fits all" sort of thing. Pair it with an LPD or LHA to provide the necessary troops, engineers, vehicles, landing craft, and more helicopters to unload and set up the base. After all, all these things would normally be sent anyway.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
              If it up to me it'd be a variant of one of these:



              The actual ship would have some facilities aboard to act as a hospital ship, but the majority of the facilities would be installed in modular assemblies in standard shipping containers. These could be unloaded by helicopter or crane and moved by truck or helicopter to a shore location where needed. The containers would assemble into a portable hospital, urgent care, clinic, etc., depending on the needs of the situation.
              Already in the military inventory as the MUST unit.




              Fully transportable by chopper, cargo aircraft or vehicle.
              Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                Already in the military inventory as the MUST unit.




                Fully transportable by chopper, cargo aircraft or vehicle.
                MUST what? Must suck to be stuck in one of these? Must be about as comfortable as eating MRE's for a decade? Must be substandard and installed by idiots?

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                • #9
                  I agree that modern usage of a hospital ship is more for showing the flag and used for humanitarian missions as a show of soft power. Most of your Amphibs will have a hospital built into their design for their deployed units already. They are built tough and can be defended as required to be in hostile waters.

                  I myself think the idea of a bunch of specialized Spearhead class hospital ships is not a great idea as you can already do that with the existing Spearhead class EPF (JHSV). With the current fleet of these overpriced, but quick and versatile craft, you can fill the mission bay with Conex box medical units and overflow berthing and you can swoop into any small port and provide humanitarian aid with one or more units. You have a roll-on/roll-off capability so you can stack the mission with another ship or two that could be loaded with whatever else the mission may need such as electrical power generators, security vehicles, construction equipment, emergency food, and extra berthing. You may not be able to handle a V-22, but it is a US ship with a helicopter deck. It is not a warship either as it does not have anything larger than small arms installed. They might not be as nice as specialized ships, but they could meet the general requirements of a hospital ship without dedicating a bunch of platforms to it and painting them white. You only need to develop the portable medical units and apply a temporary giant vinyl wrap red cross on a white square to the side of the ship.

                  To replace the USNS ships I would rather dedicate a relatively fast ship such as modified commercial ship. One base for this design could be what the HMS Tide class tanker/supply ship was derived from. It has a double hull and can get around at about 25 knots as opposed to the current 17 knots of the USNS Comfort and Mercy. A second choice would be a modified medium sized Container Ship design as they are typically designed to go faster than a commercial oil tanker. Additionally, many are designed with the bridge in the center of the ship. This would give a better view for the helmsman to steer from.

                  Generally, having a dedicated ship design that is slightly smaller than the current class would be ideal. They could get into shallower ports and have the ability to quickly redeploy without packing up a portable land hospital. A self-contained hospital ship provides a level of comfort and security for the deployed medical and support staff needed to run a medical mission. Spend the extra money on the medical Conex box units that can be deployed in a specialized deck of the hospital ship or moved to the temporary EFP units as required.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                    MUST what? Must suck to be stuck in one of these? Must be about as comfortable as eating MRE's for a decade? Must be substandard and installed by idiots?

                    Medical Unit Self-Transportable. It uses a standard turbine engine to inflate the units and provide heat, air conditioning, lights, power and amenities like hot water. Basically an inflatable field hospital complete with surgical suites, xray, labs, recovery ward and standard wards for patient care. More casualties - just hook up more units of whatever type you need, like wards.

                    Whole thing can be operational within hours of arrival on site, and they have been around since the 70's.
                    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                    • #11
                      For a ship that is fast and able to go into shallow ports, I'd redesign an AUSTAL AUTO EXPRESS 127 trimaran. I'm sure it could be reconfigured to have a small helicopter pad ahead of the bridge.



                      For something that can cope with large helicopters, I would do something similar to what the British did in the Falklands War... the SS Atlantic Conveyor, and the Atlantic Causeway.

                      "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                      Ernest Hemingway.

                      First get your facts straight, then distort them at your leisure. - Mark Twain.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                        Medical Unit Self-Transportable. It uses a standard turbine engine to inflate the units and provide heat, air conditioning, lights, power and amenities like hot water. Basically an inflatable field hospital complete with surgical suites, xray, labs, recovery ward and standard wards for patient care. More casualties - just hook up more units of whatever type you need, like wards.

                        Whole thing can be operational within hours of arrival on site, and they have been around since the 70's.
                        Containers are more permanent and flexible. They also don't require power per se to be installed.

                        This one expands into a building double or triple the size of the container itself.







                        They're stackable as well as connectable so you can build larger structures with them.



                        Erecting larger buildings and covered work space is possible too:



                        They're far more flexible than inflatable buildings and much better if you are going to be somewhere for a while. The inflatable building is better if you are airlifting stuff in for a quick response, but once a big container ship shows up, the airlift is worthless by comparison.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                          Containers are more permanent and flexible. They also don't require power per se to be installed.

                          This one expands into a building double or triple the size of the container itself.







                          They're stackable as well as connectable so you can build larger structures with them.



                          Erecting larger buildings and covered work space is possible too:



                          They're far more flexible than inflatable buildings and much better if you are going to be somewhere for a while. The inflatable building is better if you are airlifting stuff in for a quick response, but once a big container ship shows up, the airlift is worthless by comparison.
                          You're talking advanced medical care; therefore you MUST HAVE electrical power, heat, air conditioning, hot water, power for xrays and advanced equipment,etc., and that does not come standard in CONEX containers, and if you are using CONEX containers in the Middle East, you had better have a whole lot of air conditioning, everywhere. Frankly, it would be a nightmare getting all of that hooked up for each and every container.

                          This problem has already been solved using a system that has worked well for decades. Re-inventing the wheel requires something much better than what is currently being fielded.

                          Going into shallow [ports is not only unnecessary, but exposes the hospital ship to risks from ground fire, not acceptable for a hospital ship.

                          Now, if you want to take one of those bloated cruise ships and reconfigure it as an entire floating hospital complex, that might be worth the effort, provided you never, ever have to go where there is even a hint of bad weather. Those things are as unstable as my first wife.


                          BTW - to make all of those fancy set-ups in your pictures, be sure to bring along a good sized crane, just to lift them and sling them around within reach of the ship. Anything else and you first have to unload your crane. Meanwhile, the MUST unit is already up and running, powered fully by the same unit that keeps them blown up, lit up and everything else.
                          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm not really seeing a need for this ship to get into a shallow port.

                            I'm of two minds on this.

                            For sheer efficiency, a PANAMAX size ship that's predominately cargo vessel with a large dedicated hospital would be the most efficient variant.

                            OTOH....as a former Redpatcher, I know how much in the way of relief can be moved by air and by landing craft. Which would lead me towards still a very large vessel with a cargo-ship shape. However, it would have a well-deck built in to accommodate two LCUs for moving supplies to and from shallow ports or even directly onto a beach. I would purposely not use LCACs as they're very good but they're high speed and have much more of a 'military' application, while the slower LCU could more easily be justified as a non-combat vessel.

                            Additionally, I'd have the superstructure a bit more midway of the ship, though again purposely covering the entire deck port to starboard to make it distinctively NOT a flattop or landing craft. Fore of the superstructure would be a large cargo deck, with a helipad suitable for anything up to a V22 right near the superstructure for offloading sick and injured directly into the triage portion of the hospital, which would be accessible by elevator and in the holds under the container deck.

                            Aft of the Superstructure would be a flight deck capable of handling up to a pair of V22s or CH53Ks, though the hangar would typically hold around 3 SH60s and space for a fourth or one of the larger birds. Alternatively quite a number of smaller more civilian type birds could be carried.

                            In the superstructure itself would be the hangar, plus that portion of the ship would house crew quarters and an Incident Command Post completely set up to handle disaster relief operations. The Hospital would start directly forward of the fore helipad, and would progressively move through triage to surgical suites, to recovery and bed space as you move farther forward on the ship (and away from the noise of the cargo and air operations portions.

                            For a place with a deep water port, the ship can pull alongside and offload relief supplies. For a place with no suitable facilities, the ship can moor in any sheltered bay and offload onto its own Landing Craft to bring supplies into a shallow water port or a beach, or use heavy lift helicopters to carry limited containers inland. Additionally it would have fuel and sufficient space aboard for extended operations.
                            Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                              You're talking advanced medical care; therefore you MUST HAVE electrical power, heat, air conditioning, hot water, power for xrays and advanced equipment,etc., and that does not come standard in CONEX containers, and if you are using CONEX containers in the Middle East, you had better have a whole lot of air conditioning, everywhere. Frankly, it would be a nightmare getting all of that hooked up for each and every container.


                              Been there, done that. Much easier than you think. In fact, I can run the cables over the top of the boxes in most cases to avoid having people trample them or trucks run over them. I designed and submitted to SpaWar years ago "truck proof" cables because this was a huge problem in MIUW units at the time.

                              This problem has already been solved using a system that has worked well for decades. Re-inventing the wheel requires something much better than what is currently being fielded.
                              This isn't "reinventing the wheel." It's making a pneumatic tire on a mag wheel to replace a wagon wheel.

                              Going into shallow [ports is not only unnecessary, but exposes the hospital ship to risks from ground fire, not acceptable for a hospital ship.
                              Most of the time, the ship isn't in a combat zone. Even where that would be the case, the port isn't going to be in range of small arms and field artillery where it docks.

                              Now, if you want to take one of those bloated cruise ships and reconfigure it as an entire floating hospital complex, that might be worth the effort, provided you never, ever have to go where there is even a hint of bad weather. Those things are as unstable as my first wife.


                              BTW - to make all of those fancy set-ups in your pictures, be sure to bring along a good sized crane, just to lift them and sling them around within reach of the ship. Anything else and you first have to unload your crane. Meanwhile, the MUST unit is already up and running, powered fully by the same unit that keeps them blown up, lit up and everything else.
                              Aside from all that, the idea is the ship has some capacity for operations at sea. Say a 500 bed hospital with all the necessities. The containers are for expanding operations ashore in things like humanitarian missions. Such a ship would have been extremely useful after that last hurricane in Puerto Rico. It comes, drops off several hundred containers that comprise not just medical facilities, but portable (by trailer or large helicopter) generators, shop facilities, water purification units, etc. Some could have their own portable generator included with them.
                              These can be moved to the needed location and set up. They are also relatively secure being in a steel container that can be locked up to minimize looting.

                              You bring the container dollies with you in a container...



                              That way you can use local equipment to move them, or military vehicles to do the same.

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