USNS Mercy Arrives in Los Angeles

The hospital ship USNS Mercy arrives at the Port of Los Angeles to assist area medical facilities during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in San Pedro, California, U.S., March 27, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The hospital ship USNS Mercy has arrived at the Port of Los Angeles bringing with it 1,000 hospital beds, 800 medical staff, emergency rooms and ICUs to provide relief for shore-based hospitals overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The USNS Mercy, operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, departed Naval Base San Diego on Monday with over 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff and over 70 civil service mariners.

The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients.

Mercy’s medical treatment facility staff is made up of medical personnel from the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The MSC mariners are responsible for operating and navigating the ship, including load and off-load mission cargo.

The USNS Mercy was met at the Port of Los Angeles’ “Angels Gate” entrance at 0730 hours this morning by the FOSS maritime tugs Alta June, Bo Brusco, and Arthur Foss, along with Foss sister company AMNAV providing the tug Patricia Ann. The tugs escorted her to a security sweep location before finally assisting her into the Port of Los Angeles Berth 93, where she will remain for the foreseeable future. The vessel was declared “All Fast” to the dock at 0930 hours.

USNS Mercy’s arrival at the Port of Los Angeles comes only ten days after the Trump administration indicated it would be deploying the two U.S. Navy hospital ships in support COVID-19 response efforts in the United States.

USNS Comfort is currently being readied in Virginia and is expected to depart Saturday for arrival in New York Harbor on Monday, President Trump said Thursday.

The two Mercy-class hospital ships are equipped with 1,000 hospital beds, 11 general operation suites, 15 patient wards and 80 intensive care beds, according to the Navy’s website.

The Mercy-class ships’ mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military, as well as full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.

Mercy is a converted San Clemente-class supertanker that was delivered to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command Nov. 8, 1986. USNS Mercy has not been deployed in response to a natural disaster since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated places in South East Asia.

USNS Comfort previously deployed with the Venezuelan refugee crisis in 2018, and for Atlantic hurricanes including Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Hospital Ship ‘Mercy’ Steaming to Los Angeles to Assist with COVID-19 Response

The USNS Mercy, a Navy hospital ship, departs the Naval Station San Diego and heads to the Port of Los Angeles to aid local medical facilities dealing with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients, in San Diego, California, U.S., March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy departed her homeport at Naval Station San Diego today and is now underway to Los Angeles in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response effort.

USNS Mercy left port with over 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff who will help treat non-COVID-19 patients aboard, and relieve local hospitals ashore by providing medical care including general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults, the Navy said in a statement.

“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,” it said.

Mercy is the first of two Mercy-class hospital ships operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. It’s primary mission is “to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. Mercy’s secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.”

The Mercy-class hospital ships are equipped with 1,000 hospital beds, 11 general operation suites, 15 patient wards and 80 intensive care beds, according to the Navy’s website.

A crew of over 70 civil service mariners operate and navigate the ship, load and off-load mission cargo, assist with repairs to mission equipment and provide essential services to keep the “medical treatment facility (MTF)” up and running. Mercy’s MTF is an embarked crew of medical personnel from the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, which is responsible for operating and maintaining one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States.

“This global crisis demands the whole of government response, and we are ready to support,” said Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy’s Military Treatment Facility commanding officer. “Mercy brings a team of medical professionals, medical equipment, and supplies, all of which will act, in essence, as a ‘relief valve’ for local civilian hospitals in Los Angeles so that local health professionals can better focus on COVID-19 cases. We will use our agility and responsiveness as an afloat Medical Treatment Facility to do what the country asks, and bring relief where we are needed most.”

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, as of Monday, there have been 536 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, including seven deaths and 90 hospitalizations.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase over the last 48 hours and sadly, we expect positive case counts to rise dramatically over the next three weeks,” said Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health Director.

Statewide, California now has 1,733 confirmed cases and 27 deaths.

Trump: Arison Will Make Carnival Ships Available

President Donald J. Trump

President Donald J. Trump said that Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison told him that Carnival’s cruise ships will be available if the government should need them amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“I spoke with Micky Arison of Carnival Cruise Lines and he is going to make ships available,” Trump said, in a White House press conference on Thursday. “So in addition to the big medical ships you have coming, if we should need ships with lots of rooms, they will be docked in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, different places.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is no stranger to chartering cruise ships for temporary housing, having done so following Hurricane Katrina, and hurricanes in 2017. Both times FEMA worked with Carnival.

Cruise ships could supply temporary housing for a quarantine facility, or serve as housing for medical or government workers, or in some cases, have been suggested as sites for surge hospital capacity.

Ships also provide a secure environment. Authorities would know who is on the ship at any time, and can restrict access and movements relatively easily, compared to a land-based site.

Carnival Corporation owns nine brands with approximately 105 ships across its fleet.