Given the Covid19 outbreak, world governments are looking at how fast a pandemic can lead to a severe shortage of isolation beds. Could the answer be a quickly deployed, modular and expandable hospital vessel?

Alego Development’s 36m by 19m catamaran has three enclosed decks with “around 20 operating rooms and treatment facilities” CEO Capt Sondre Sandbye told MJ.

The bow has a broad access ramp and an area for a fast-response paramedic vehicle. Below, the twin hulls each hold a pair of diesel/biofuel gensets and as there’s a focus on low emissions the boat is a hybrid, the batteries also providing emergency power for the hospital if a shore connection isn’t available. Above is an upper open half-deck and optional helipad.

However, the big difference between this and other hospital vessels is that it can be modified according to need. The trick is that it is based on 40ft hi-cube containers: that even goes for the hull, which can be modified by unfastening and introducing a few more sections, all without drydocking – power is increased by additional propulsion modules.

Though not for offshore operation, Sandbye explained it could be moored up in ports or harbours or even on inland waterways.

While the idea might appeal to some mature economies, its real target is the developing world because here, a crisis can turn into a catastrophe. Importantly its 2.1m draft allows shallow depth access as a number of places don’t have a fully developed highway system: “Take for example the Congo, this has 1,500km of functional road, but 15,000km of river,” he added.

Further, when disassembled it conforms to ISO container standards so it can be transported by existing infrastructure and assembled without yard support, “pretty much anywhere, even on a beach”, said Sandbye.

The concept also lends itself to vaccination and education facilities, these being important to the long-term viability of emerging areas which are spread out, often without basic access to healthcare or schools.

The team is keen to get it up and running: “We’re ready to go”, said Sanbye, and added that Alego is looking for partners and capital to make it a reality. While the company already has a commercial cargo ship about to enter into build, he said the hospital ship “is the legacy I really want to be remembered for”.

By Stevie Knight

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