81ºF

As COVID-19 cases spike, where are the Comfort and Mercy ships now?

Medical vessels from Navy could be called for use again, should cases continue to rise

The USNS Comfort hospital ship sails in the Hudson River as it departs New York City after ending its coronavirus (COVID-19) duty on April 30, 2020. (Photo by Noam Galai
The USNS Comfort hospital ship sails in the Hudson River as it departs New York City after ending its coronavirus (COVID-19) duty on April 30, 2020. (Photo by Noam Galai (Getty Images)

Where have the Comfort and Mercy ships gone? And will the nation, still in a pandemic, turn its eyes to them for help once again?

In March, the ships were deployed to New York City and Los Angeles to help alleviate stress put on hospitals and the workers involved in treating an influx of patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but what happened during that deployment? And where are the ships now?

We have some answers to these important questions.

What exactly are the Comfort and Mercy ships?

The ships are Navy hospital vessels that are deployed to provide emergency care and other services on-site for U.S. military personnel, or for other operations.

The ships were deployed in late March to help assist frontline hospital workers and provide care on the ships, should hospitals overflow with patients.

Where were they first deployed?

Comfort is based in Norfolk, Virginia, and was deployed outside of New York City to help with crowded hospitals in that area. Based in San Diego, the Mercy was deployed to Los Angeles for the same purpose. Comfort arrived in New York City on March 30, a day after it left Virginia, according to Business Insider.

How long did the ships stay?

Comfort was outside New York City until it left the area and departed for Virginia on April 30. Mercy left Los Angeles and headed back to San Diego on May 16. Many of the workers on the ships returned to previous assignments on land, according to NavyTimes.

How many people did the ships treat?

Comfort left New York City after treating 182 patients, 70% of whom had COVID-19, according to NavyTimes. The crew consisted of 1,200 people, and there were 1,000 beds.

Mercy departed Los Angeles after treating 77 patients in less than two months, according to USNI News. In April, seven sailors were removed from the ship after contracting COVID-19.

Will the ships be needed in Texas or Florida?

As COVID-19 cases surge in each state, both of which have docks where the ships would have access, this remains to be seen.

Comfort is available in case it is needed for future help, according to NavyTimes, while USNI News reported the same is true for Mercy.

The USNS Comfort hospital ship exits the harbor in front of the Statue of Liberty as it heads back to Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia on April 30, 2020. Photo by Justin Heiman.
The USNS Comfort hospital ship exits the harbor in front of the Statue of Liberty as it heads back to Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia on April 30, 2020. Photo by Justin Heiman. (Getty Images)
The USNS Comfort departs for its home port of Norfolk, Virginia on April 30, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris
The USNS Comfort departs for its home port of Norfolk, Virginia on April 30, 2020 in New York City. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris (Getty Images)
The USNS Comfort hospital ship sails in the Hudson River as it departs New York City after ending its coronavirus (COVID-19) duty on April 30, 2020 as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo by Noam Galai
The USNS Comfort hospital ship sails in the Hudson River as it departs New York City after ending its coronavirus (COVID-19) duty on April 30, 2020 as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo by Noam Galai (Getty Images)
The USNS Comfort hospital ship sits docked on the westside of New York City as the sun sets on April 8, 2020 as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey. (Photo by Gary Hershorn
The USNS Comfort hospital ship sits docked on the westside of New York City as the sun sets on April 8, 2020 as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey. (Photo by Gary Hershorn (Getty Images)
The USNS Comfort navy hospital ship is docked at Pier 90 as The Empire State Building Glows Red In Solidarity With Those Infected With COVID-19 on April 3, 2020 in New York City as seen from West New York, New Jersey. Photo by Kena Betancur
The USNS Comfort navy hospital ship is docked at Pier 90 as The Empire State Building Glows Red In Solidarity With Those Infected With COVID-19 on April 3, 2020 in New York City as seen from West New York, New Jersey. Photo by Kena Betancur (Getty Images)

About the Author: