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Splendid case study — how the first passenger ship was transformed for coronavirus relief

PHOTO: GNV GNV Splendid isolation room.jpg
A Splendid cabin converted into a hospital isolation room
The first passenger vessel to be converted into a hospital ship to support the coronavirus battle is MSC Group's Splendid, operated by GNV.

It was delivered today in Genoa.

Given that using cruise ships for this purpose is now out in the open, Seatrade Cruise News offers this report to illustrate how things might work — though, unlike Splendid, the ships of Carnival Corp. & plc will not be housing coronavirus cases.

GNV transformed Splendid into a fully equipped facility to provide assistance to COVID-19 patients and people required to spend a period in controlled facilities before returning to their homes. The ship will begin to accommodate patients Monday in order to free precious hospital beds shoreside.

Speedy turnaround

MSC Group started working on the project together with classification society RINA at the beginning of the coronavirus emergency in Italy two weeks ago. This was done in close coordination with Liguria’s regional health system and the national civil protection agency.

Flexible and scalable

The goal was to create a solution with a high level of flexibility and scalability that can be quickly adapted to the evolving health crisis. In less than a week, GNV and RINA readied the ship, together with a group of national and local companies including San Giorgio del Porto of GIN Group, and medical, support and technical suppliers — at their own expense — with the support of health and civil protection authorities.

25 beds now with possibility to scale up to 400

Initially Splendid will offer 25 beds in single isolation cabins, in addition to a medical area with beds for treating emergencies and separate medical and crew accommodation areas. It will be possible to quickly equip further cabins up to a total of 400 beds.

In case of need, Splendid could quickly be fitted with intensive care units in container modules to be housed in the ferry's vehicle deck, an area also suitable for emergency vehicles. This would make the ship an effective field hospital.

GNV had experience in such an effort, having stepped up in 2017 on a similar project following the humanitarian emergency caused by Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean.

Splendid's delivery as a hospital ship took place in the presence of Liguria Gov. Giovanni Toti, Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci, President of the Port System Authority of the Western Ligurian Sea Paolo Emilio Signorini, GNV CEO Matteo Catani and RINA CEO Ugo Salerno, along with health, hospital and civil protection officials.

Suppliers of products and services

Partners who provided products and services free of charge include HP-Aruba, Alpha Trading, Artigo Rubber Flooring, San Giorgio del Porto, Auscomar, ItalBrokers, Le Navi Maritime Agency, Burger King, Covim, Emis, Giunti Editore, IdealService, Infomaster, Mantero Sistemi, Provveditoria Marittima Ligure Angelo Novelli and Ansaldo Naval Technical Studio.

GNV made the ship available for the symbolic cost of €1 until the Italian government’s declared emergency ends.