- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The military hospital ships USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy are proving so valuable in the nation’s fight against the coronavirus that the U.S. may build two more like them, President Trump said Wednesday.

During a White House press conference, the president said the Pentagon could soon undertake work on two more ships of similar size and with similar medical capabilities. There appears to be no firm plan or timeline in place for construction, and the president offered little detail on how soon the effort would begin or how much it would cost.

‘We’re looking at two additional brand new hospital ships,” Mr. Trump said. “These ships have really — they’ve really struck a blow, a very positive blow, for what they’re doing, going to Los Angeles and going into New York. So we’re looking very seriously at building two additional ships of about the same size.”

Mr. Trump also mentioned the possibility of converting two existing Navy vessels into hospital ships, though he concluded that the end result will be “probably two brand new ones.”

The Comfort arrived in New York City this week and will care for non-coronavirus patients in order to take the load off of local hospitals overrun by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mercy is conducting a similar mission in Los Angeles.

The two converted super tankers have cared for more than 500,000 patients since they were both brought into the fleet more than 30 years ago.

They’re each able to care for 1,000 patients at a time and feature 12 fully equipped operating rooms.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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