One of the Navy's two floating hospitals will be mothballed to free up money to spend on warships, submarines, and aircraft, Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday.
The USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort — both with 1,000 hospital beds — have provided medical care during wars and disasters since the 1980s, including last year, when the Comfort went to Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The Comfort also responded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Haitian earthquake and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Stars and Stripes reported.
But Navy leaders say even an increased 2019 budget of $151.4 billion falls short of the pace needed to meet a long-term goal of a 355-ship fleet.
"I'm a big fan of hospital ships because I love the fact that we can help injured and ill (service) members," Air Force Gen. Darren McDew, head of the U.S. Transportation Command, told lawmakers, conceding tough decisions have to made even with a budget increase, Stars and Stripes reported.
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