22 photos of the incredible floating hospital that can care for 1,000 patients at once

The U.S. Navy owns the oceans, ensuring freedom of navigation for allies and fighting fiercely when called upon.

But the Navy has a softer side too, filled with humanitarian relief and medical missions.The crown jewels of this effort are the USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort — hospital ships with a thousand beds each.

1. The USNS Mercy and her sister ship were converted from massive supertankers. Each is 70,000 metric tons.

USNS-Mercy-hospital-ship

Photo: Department of Defense

2. The Mercy is a mobile hospital, complete with 12 operating rooms as well as pediatric, trauma, and orthopedic areas.

Photo: Department of Defense Kristopher Radder

Photo: Department of Defense Kristopher Radder

3. While the Navy maintains hospital ships to provide mobile care to soldiers and Marines fighting ashore, the USNS Mercy has been primarily deployed on humanitarian missions in the Pacific.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

4. Mercy is often deployed to Pacific areas where clinics, like the one below, provide basic care. Doctors can refer the patients to the USNS Mercy, which will then provide hospital-level services.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

5. Patients are transported to the ship by helicopter or by “band-aid” boats.

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen

6. When patients arrive, they are sent to the receiving area. Their medical needs will be diagnosed and they are then sent elsewhere on the ship for care.

Photo: US Navy JoAnna Delfin

Photo: US Navy JoAnna Delfin

7. When doctors need a better look at an injury, the use the onboard CT scanner.

Photo: US Navy JoAnna Delfin

Photo: US Navy JoAnna Delfin

8. For patients that require surgery, the 12 operating bays provide a modern, sterile environment for procedures.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

9. Here, a doctor puts the final sutures in a patient after removing a six pound tumor from her.

Photo: US Navy Kristopher Radder

Photo: US Navy Kristopher Radder

10. The ship regularly trains for mass casualty events. This helps them support military operations where a lot of troops may be wounded and respond to humanitarian crises.

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Justin W. Galvin

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Justin W. Galvin

11. Children are welcome on the ship where onboard pediatricians treat them.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

12. A pre-dental society sophomore student from the University of California-San Diego plays with a Timorese child during Pacific Partnership 2008.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

13. A hospital corpsman gives a surgical screening to a child onboard the USNS Mercy in 2010.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

14. Humans aren’t the only patients for the USNS Mercy. The ship deploys with U.S. Army veterinarians and veterinary assistants for treating livestock and pets as well.

Army-vet-technician-monkey-animal-USNS-Mercy

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Clement

15. Pets and nearby wildlife can be a vector for disease, so the services of the veterinary staff help protect the human population.

Pacific Partnership 2015 veterinary personnel treat Fijian pets at animal clinic

Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Peter Reft

16. The Mercy maintains its own combat search and rescue helicopter and crew.

Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Valerie Eppler

Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Valerie Eppler

17. Sailors launch and recover the birds from the upper deck of the ship.

Photo: US Navy Kristopher Radder

Photo: US Navy Kristopher Radder

18. Even foreign military doctors help out aboard the USNS Mercy. In this photo, an Australian Navy dentist treats patients onboard.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

19. A dentist with the South Korean Navy treats a patient onboard the Mercy.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

20. The USNS Mercy crew also goes ashore to help partner nations. Here, an environmental health officer tests a water well that was just dug by Navy Seabees.

Photo: Department of Defense

Photo: Department of Defense

21. The Mercy has its own firefighters who ensure the safety of the other sailors and patients on the ship.

Photo: US Navy Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Roadell Hickman

Photo: US Navy Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Roadell Hickman

22. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the ship and its mission in the Pacific Partnership.

Illustration: US Navy

Illustration: US Navy

TOP ARTICLES
These are the military traditions for deployed troops celebrating Thanksgiving

While you're deployed, weekends aren't really a thing — neither are most holidays. Thanksgiving, however, is a moment when the military slows down.

Forget multitasking, this Navy squadron has only one mission — rescue people

The Navy has an entire squadron for search and rescue, and it is the only squadron in the Navy that has an advance life-support helicopter platform.

How the Coast Guard intercepts half a million pounds of cocaine

For the last couple decades, the Coast Guard has pushed out further, taking more aggressive stabs at the flow of drugs that make their way into the U.S.

More remains of Special Forces soldier found in Niger

The Department of Defense announced that military investigators found additional remains that they have positively ID'd as Sgt. La David T. Johnson.

'Butcher of of Bosnia' sentenced to life in prison for genocide

"The Butcher of Bosnia" was handed a life sentence on November 22nd, 2017, for war crimes and the slaughter of 8,000 men and young children.

New engravings on the USMC War Memorial honor Iraq and Afghanistan Marines

On Nov. 22, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial was updated to include Afghanistan and Iraq in the list of campaigns that runs along the memorial's base.

ISIS may focus on a virtual caliphate after losing real-world war

As the Islamic State loses the in real life war they've waged against the world, they've moved their game online- waging war in the virtual world.

Everything you need to know about Zimbabwe's ousted dictator

The dictator of Zimbabwe announced his resignation on Nov. 21, 2017 after the county's army took of the capital and family, forcing the resignation.

Watch this Marine get pinned by his 3-year-old son

Watch this adorable little boy steal into the hearts of all the Marines and civilians present as he promotes his dad and pins on his promoted rank.

Watch a North Korean defector dodging bullets to cross the DMZ

A North Korean attempting to defect to the South, who was found to be full of parasites, was shot by his fellow soldiers. We Are the Mighty has the video.