Port of Los Angeles receives Mercy

The Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived at the Port of Los Angeles Friday morning to support COVID-19 response efforts.

The Mercy docked at the World Cruise Terminal, idled by the cruise industry’s shutdown during the coronavirus crisis.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet said the Mercy will serve non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals and will provide a full spectrum of medical 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 spokesman said.

Mercy’s primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute medical facility to the U.S. military. Its secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide. 

The Mercy deployed from San Diego on Monday to provide relief to Los Angeles-area hospitals overburdened by the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a letter to President Donald Trump asking that the Mercy be sent to his state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California’s health care system will be significantly impacted by the rapid increase in confirmed coronavirus cases.

“We project that roughly 56% of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period,” Newsom said.

New York City also is slated to receive aid from a Navy hospital ship. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday the USNS Comfort, which was being refitted at its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, is scheduled to arrive Monday.

Donjon Marine Co. said it is expediting dredging operations at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in preparation for the Comfort’s arrival.

Dredging Contractors of America reported Friday, “Jones Act dredging company Donjon Marine of Hillside, New Jersey, was contracted last week and asked to begin dredging Manhattan Cruise Terminal’s Berth 4 in anticipation of the arrival of the USNS Comfort to New York City. Donjon sprang into action, hurrying a dump scow out of drydock 10 days earlier than scheduled and moving its dredge, the Delaware Bay, and two other scows from ongoing projects into position.”

Both ships are equipped with 12 operating rooms, 1,000 hospital beds, digital radiological services, a medical lab, pharmacy and oxygen-producing plants. Each ship has a deck capable of landing large military helicopters and side ports to take on patients at sea. When fully operational, the hospital ships have a crew of about 71 civilians and up to 1,200 Navy medical and communications personnel.