Carnival Cruise Line has offered the use of its ships as hospitals, cruise terminals in Los Angeles and New York are being used as field hospitals and Cunard Line’s three ships may be repurposed by the British government for non-Coronavirus-related treatments.
Carnival has offered up to 15 vessels in its 105-ship fleet as temporary hospitals, with each one able to accommodate as many as 1,000 makeshift hospital rooms. The ships would not be used to care for coronavirus patients directly, instead they would free up beds and alleviate pressure at land-based hospitals by taking on less-critical patients.
Under this arrangement, medical services would be provided by the government or hospital entity.
“Although we are early in our process, we’ve had more than a dozen initial responses so far with conversations underway,” says Roger Frizzell, senior vice president and chief communications officer at Carnival Corporation. “We don’t have any firm agreements in place yet, but we’re making good progress.”
Cunard Line, Saga Cruises and American Steamboat Company have made similar offers, while MSC Cruises has converted its ferry MSC Splendid (not to be confused with MSC Splendida) into a floating medical centre.
The cruise terminals in Los Angeles and New York have been converted into hospitals as well, with USNS Mercy docked the Port of LA’s cruise terminal to provide additional healthcare capacity for the region’s medical system during the COVID-19 crisis.
USNS Comfort is docked at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. More than 1,200 personnel embarked for the New York mission including Navy medical and support staff assembled from 22 commands, as well as over 70 civil service mariners.
“The USNS Comfort arrives in New York City this morning with more than 1,100 medical personnel who are ready to provide safe, high-quality health care to non-COVID patients,” said Capt. Patrick Amersbach, commanding officer of the USNS Comfort Military Treatment Facility. “We are ready and grateful to serve the needs of our nation.”
“Like her sister ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), which recently moored in Los Angeles, this great ship will support civil authorities by increasing medical capacity and collaboration for medical assistance,” said Rear Adm. John Mustin, vice commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “Not treating COVID-19 patients… but by acting as a relief valve for other urgent needs, freeing New York’s hospitals and medical professionals to focus on the pandemic.”
There are more than 3,500 cases of Coronavirus in Los Angeles, while New York is the hardest hit area in the country, with more than 25,000 cases.