April 6th 2020

USNS COMFORT and USNS MERCY, the massive floating hospitals deployed to support healthcare facilities in New York and Los Angeles that have been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, are now on station and providing care.

USNS MERCY arrived in Los Angeles Friday and accepted its first patients Saturday.

USNS COMFORT departed Naval Station Norfolk Sunday and began receiving patients today.

The licensed deck officers aboard MERCY and COMFORT are represented by the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG). The engineers are represented by MEBA and the unlicensed crewmembers are represented by the SIU.

USNS MERCY is under the command of Captain Jonathan Olmstead. The captain of USNS COMFORT is Andrew Lindey.

COMFORT’s deployment “was an all MM&P bargaining unit members’ evolution, from undocking to ship operation,” said MM&P Government Employees Membership Group Representative Randi Ciszewski.

Captain Mike Hicks was the CNO Harbor Pilot from NAVSTA NORVA who rode COMFORT into Norfolk for a send-off by journalists and US officials, including President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

COMFORT was welcomed to New York City by a giant sign on Pier 40 that read, “I Want to Thank You.”

“It was the proudest moment of my 40-year career,” said Sandy Hook Pilot Captain Tim Ferrie, who was at the conn of the giant vessel as it headed to its berth at Pier 90.

Both ships will serve as referral hospitals for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based facilities.

They will provide a full spectrum of medical care including general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults.

This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and shore-based hospitals to use their intensive care units and ventilators for those patients.

Each ship contains 12 fully equipped operating rooms, has a bed capacity of 1,000 and boasts digital radiological services, medical labs, full-serve pharmacies, blood banks, medical equipment repair shops, prosthetics and physical therapy.