Comfort comes to New York Harbor

The hospital ship USNS Comfort, carrying more than 1,100 medical personnel, arrived in New York Harbor on Monday morning to support the nation’s fight against the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump attended a sendoff ceremony for the Comfort at its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday.

“After being rushed out of maintenance with historic speed — it was supposed to be here for four weeks and they did it in four days — the Comfort will arrive at Pier 90 in Manhattan on Monday, three weeks ahead of schedule. Its crew will begin treating patients on Tuesday,” Trump said, according to remarks released by the White House.

The Comfort, equipped with 1,000 hospital beds and 12 operating rooms, will treat noncoronavirus patients.

“By serving these emergency patients away from the hospitals, beds will be opened up all over the city for those who are infected,” Trump said. “This ship can handle a lot of people, so it will open capacity all over the city. And it will be ready to address any life-threatening medical emergency. It is stocked. It’s stocked to the brim with equipment and medicines and everything you can think of. Importantly, by treating noninfected patients remotely on the ship, it will help to halt, very strongly, the transmission of the virus.”

Rear Adm. John Mustin, vice commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said in a statement released by the Navy, “The last time that this great hospital ship was here was in the wake of 9-11, where she served as respite and comfort for our first responders working around the clock. Our message to New Yorkers — now your Navy has returned and we are with you committed in this fight.”

A second hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, accepted its first patients at the Port of Los Angeles in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts Sunday. It arrived at the port Friday.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our crew for all the hard work they did to get us here and ready in such a short time,” said Capt. John Rotruck, the Mercy’s commanding officer, in a statement released by the Navy.

The Mercy will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults. This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their intensive care units and ventilators for those patients.

“The men and women embarked on board Mercy are energized, eager and ready to provide relief to those in need,” Rotruck said.