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.

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.

Carnival Magic to leave Miami

Carnival Magic to leave Miami
Carnival Magic

The 1,845-passenger Carnival Magic next year will reposition from Miami to operate cruises from Europe, New York City and Port Canaveral, Fla.

Carnival Cruise Line said that the Magic will sail from four cities and two continents in 2021, including two transatlantic voyages.

The Magic will leave Miami for Europe in March 2021 and undergo a two-week drydock ahead of a series of seven- and eight-day Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona through the spring.

The ship will return to New York in June to kick off a summer schedule of four- to nine-day sailings to Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Canada and New England through late September.

The Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in November to launch a winter season of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises through April 2022.