Stena RoRo has prepared the design and a project manager has been appointed to convert the large vehicle and passenger ferry Stena Saga into a hospital ship with space for 520 patients. Stena RoRo can convert the ferry within just a few weeks and have it ready to provide additional healthcare capacity in a corona-affected region. Contact has been established with authorities in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany.
When passenger service on Stena Saga’s Oslo – Fredrikshamn route was permanently closed due to the coronavirus (covid-19) and travel restrictions imposed by several countries, Stena Line transferred the ship to sister company Stena RoRo with the objective of finding an alternative use for the vessel. One of Stena RoRo’s specialist skills is converting and adapting ships to changing requirements and needs. And the company also has considerable experience in building hospital ships.
“At a shipyard in China, we’re currently building the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Global Mercy, on behalf of the international charity Mercy Ships,” says Per Westling, CEO for Stena RoRo. “Our project manager for the Global Mercy is back in Sweden and will lead any possible conversion of the Stena Saga.”
Stena Saga has over 590 passenger cabins. According to the design prepared by Stena RoRo to convert the ferry into a hospital ship, there will be space for 520 patients. “To meet the requirements for medical care, we need, among other things, to rebuild the ventilation system, install alarms and communications systems, and also change the interior furnishings,” says Stena RoRo project manager Rikard Olsson, who has substantial experience from the design and construction of hospital ships. “In addition, patients and crew must be able to be kept apart. We can do what needs to be done in two to three weeks.”
However, the converted ferry will not be equipped for intensive care. “The idea is to provide care for corona patients who need hospital care but not intensive care,” says Per Westling. “There may also be a need for beds for patients who have left intensive care but still require medical care awhile longer. Probably it’s mainly a matter of being able to relieve the load on conventional hospitals.”
The Stena Saga is now in the port of Uddevalla and Stena RoRo is investigating interest in the care capacity the ferry could provide. In addition to Sweden, where contact has already been established with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, contact is also being prioritized with the authorities in Norway, Denmark and Germany.