USNS Mercy Departs Los Angeles

Image courtesy USN

Published May 15, 2020 7:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

The hospital ship USNS Mercy has departed Los Angeles and returned to her home port in San Diego, ending her seven-week mission to assist the LA area's healthcare system. 

Mercy arrived in LA on March 24 to provide the area's hospitals with extra capacity for non-COVID-19 patients. However, the outbreak in Los Angeles ultimately proved to be small, and the hospital ship only helped 77 people over the span of her stay. Her operations experienced one setback: eeven though she was intended to remain a COVID-free facility, Mercy experienced a small outbreak of coronavirus amongst her crew. Nine sailors came down with the disease and had to disembark for isolation and treatment. An additional 750 more were disembarked for onshore housing and self-quarantine. 

Though Mercy has departed, about five dozen members of her medical complement have remained behind to provide care for patients in shoreside facilities, including a purpose-built site for the isolation and treatment of mild COVID cases. 

"Having the Mercy and [her] highly-trained medical personnel stationed in the most populous region of the state was critical to our ability to respond in the first stages of the pandemic,” Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said in a statement. “We thank our colleagues in the U.S. Navy, FEMA and the federal administration for their support in allowing us to use the Mercy.”

"We came to Los Angeles to be the relief valve for local hospitals in the fight against COVID-19,” said Capt. John Rotruck, commanding officer of Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) on board. "Sailors from across the country answered the call, forming a unified team focused on our mission to treat patients from Los Angeles. I couldn’t be more proud.”