The US Navy’s hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Naval Station Norfolk on March 29 for New York City in support of the nation’s 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.
Comfort departed Naval Station Norfolk with over 1,100 navy medical personnel and support staff with the afloat medical treatment facility (MTF) and over 70 civil service mariners.
Comfort’s MTF is an embarked crew of medical personnel from the US 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. All patient transfers will be coordinated with local hospitals, thus ensuring a consistent handoff of care between medical providers.
Comfort is operated, navigated and maintained by a crew of civil service mariners working for the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command. A converted San Clemente-class supertanker, Comfort was delivered to the navy in 1987 and is the second of two Mercy-class hospital ships.
Another US Navy’s hospital ship, USNS Mercy is part of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. After arriving in Los Angeles on March 27, the ship accepted its first patients two days later.