DONALD Trump is considering building two new hospital ships to aid in America's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pentagon could soon begin construction work on at least two more hospital ships similar to the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy in size and medical capabilities, Trump said Wednesday.
"We're looking at two additional brand new hospital ships," he said during a White House coronavirus task force presser.
"These ships have really – they've really struck a blow, a very positive blow, for what they're doing.
"So we're looking very seriously at building two additional ships of the same size."
The president also mentioned the possibility of retrofitting and converting existing Navy vessels into hospital ships, although he said the result would "probably be two brand new ones."
USNS Comfort set sail for New York on Saturday as the state recorded 209 COVID-19 deaths in one day – an average of one person dying every seven minutes.
The vessel arrived in New York City on Monday and will care for non-coronavirus patients to ease the burden of local hospitals overrun with coronavirus patients as the outbreak continues to ravage the city.
Similarly, the USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles on Monday to serve as a referral hospital and treat non-coronavirus patients admitted to shore-side hospitals, the US Department of Defense said.
The move will allow local hospitals to reserve intensive care units and ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
The converted vessels have treated more than 500,000 patients since they were activated in the fleet more than 30 years ago, according to the Washington Times.
Each ship is able to care for 1,000 patients at a time and include 12 fully-equipped operating rooms.
However, the aged hospital ships are too big for today's maritime infrastructure – they're also too large to fit into most harbors, Forbes claims.
If the ships can't properly dock to a pier, they could create a potentially dangerous transfer for patients or won't be able to accept them.
Experts told Defense News that the sheer size of Mercy and Comfort – both ships take up a total of 65,000 tons – could limit the kinds of missions they perform.
"I think we need to look at smaller variants that are more accessible to a broader variety of ports and conditions," retired Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix told the magazine.
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