USNS Comfort Departs for New York

USNS Comfort
USNS Comfort

Published Mar 29, 2020 8:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), departed Naval Station Norfolk on Sunday for New York City in support of the nation’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response efforts. 

The ship will serve as a referral hospital for patients not infected with COVID-19, providing a full spectrum of medical care to include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults, while allowing shore-based civilian hospitals to focus on their medical care devoted to the treatment of COVID-19 patients. 

President Donald J. Trump and Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper spoke to reporters in Norfolk, Va., before Comfort departed.

Comfort departed Naval Station Norfolk with over 1,100 Navy medical personnel and support staff with the afloat medical treatment facility, and over 70 civil service mariners. Comfort’s medical treatment facility is an embarked crew of medical personnel from the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery responsible for operating and maintaining one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States.

The ship expects to begin receiving patients 24 hours after arriving in New York City. Patients will not be accepted on a walk-on basis, and should not come to the pier with an expectation that they can receive care.

Comfort is operated, navigated and maintained by a crew of civil service mariners working for the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command. A converted San Clemente-class supertanker, Comfort was delivered to the Navy's Military Sealift Command December 1, 1987, and is the second of two Mercy-class hospital ships.

USNS Mercy, now stationed at the Port of Los Angeles, has received her first patients for care. Like the Comfort, the 1,000-bed Mercy is not treating coronavirus patients, but rather treating others to free up local hospitals.