Support: August 11, 2004

Archives

Another casualty of modern combat is the military hospital ship. Only the United States still deploys these floating hospitals. America has two of them, built in the late 1980s. Each has a thousand beds and extensive facilities for all manner of medical treatment. But the 70,000 ton ships require 1300 sailors and medical personnel to run. Its more effective to have better equipped medical teams closer to the fighting, and then fly the badly wounded troops to better equipped hospitals in the United States or Europe (where the American military has extensive medical facilities.) Improvements in medical equipment, and instant operating rooms (climate controlled shelters that can be erected in minutes) make it all possible. In addition, its cheaper to do the up close and personal approach than to fly the wounded back to a helipad on the hospital ship. Moreover, with a thousand hospital beds and a dozen operating rooms, theres much more capacity than is needed. The casualties in Iraq are easily handled by the hospital facilities ashore. This will end over a century of use, as the first modern hospital ship was built, by the United States during the 1898 Spanish-American war, and by Japan, to treat both Japanese and Russian casualties during the 1904-5 Russo-Japanese war. 

Ships specializing in medical care were used before, at least as early as ancient Greece. But the modern hospital ship, carrying with it medical facilities rivaling the best hospitals ashore, is very recent. The first one was the USS Solace (later given the designator AH-2), built as a freighter in 1897 and acquired by the Navy the following year. She was extensively outfitted with the most modern facilities, including x-ray, and served into the 1920s. For many years she was probably better equipped than most small town hospitals. Most hospital ships were conversions from merchant ships. The one American exception was USS Relief (AH-1), which could handle c. 600 patients. Commissioned in 1920, she served through World War II. She was actually built from the keel up as a hospital ship. 

 


Article Archive

Support: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close