Largest hospital ship in the world docks in Singapore
SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) - The world's largest hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, has been in Singapore waters since Friday.
The US Navy hospital ship has 1,000 beds, is as tall as a 10-storey building and as long as three football fields.
It is currently moored at Changi Naval Base for a supply stop as it goes on a humanitarian mission in the region.
The 70,000-tonne ship, which was converted from a supertanker, first came to this region to render aid when a tsunami devastated parts of South and South-east Asia in December 2004.
Since then, the storied ship, whose home port is San Diego, has been making annual trips to the region to work with various countries to better prepare for potential humanitarian aid and disaster response situations.
The ship, which left the United States in late February, left Indonesia on Tuesday and is making a pit stop in Singapore to load up on food, medical supplies and other logistical equipment before heading to Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam under the 13th Pacific Partnership mission.
"Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral disaster response preparedness exercise in the Indo-Pacific region designed to help our partner and host nations to prepare for natural disasters here in the Pacific along the Ring of Fire," said Captain David Bretz, mission commander of the Pacific Partnership. The Pacific Ring of Fire is a region prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
"USNS Mercy being a hospital ship offers us the opportunity to bring all these medical professionals into these countries to help with their disaster response training and to engage with local medical professionals," he added.
Since the 2004 tsunami, the US Navy's floating hospitals have played a major role in helping victims of natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina.
The Sunday Times was given a tour on board the ship, which was converted from a oil tanker in the mid-1980s. It houses two helicopters on its flight deck for casualties to be flown in or out.
It also comes equipped with 12 operating theatres, beds for 1,000 patients, a medical lab, blood bank, pharmacy and plants for producing clean drinking water and oxygen. The ship is able to produce 1.14 million litres of water a day from sea water.
Medical personnel on board can provide casualty, radiological, optometry and dental services. The floating hospital has a 900-strong crew comprising medical personnel, support staff and civilian employees.
It will set off for Malaysia on Sunday evening.