Present U.S. Navy hospital ships—the Mercy (T-AH-19) and Comfort (T-AH-20)—have several significant limitations, which could be remedied by reconfiguring existing amphibious assault ships (LHAs) as their replacements. The LHA offers a quantum leap in capability and flexibility over the two ships by providing for rapid, large-scale embarkation and debarkation of patients by air and sea and substantially improved over-the-horizon capabilities through embarked helicopters, air cushion landing craft (LCACs), and/or utility landing craft (LCUs). Additionally, state-of-the-art command, control, and communications capabilities would allow commanders to direct and coordinate the full range of medical and humanitarian operations.
From Warrior to Lifesaver
The Navy's next-generation hospital ship is already in the Fleet's inventory in the guise of Tarawa-class LHAs.
By Commander Wayne M. Gluf, MedicalCorps, U.S. Navy