The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrived in New York City March 30th in support of the COVID-19 response efforts. The Army Corps vessel GELBERMAN travelled alongside the ship’s port side as it made its way along the New York Harbor to its newly-dredged dock in Manhattan.
In addition to New York District's FEMA mission assignments involving assessments of alternate care facilities and recently adapting space within the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, New York District expedited the necessary permits for dredgers to make way for USNS COMFORT.
The dredging contractor, Donjon Marine Co., Inc. required expedited permits and authorizations from the Corps, state, and the city to begin dredging. Approval of the permits and quick action was credited to New York District's Operations Division. Donjon earlier than scheduled, moved its dredge to dredge the berth at Manhattan Cruise Terminal’s Pier 90 to ensure there is sufficient depth in the slip where the USNS Comfort will dock.
Home ported in Norfolk, Va., the COMFORT is a Mercy-class ship and one of two hospital ships in the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.
U.S. Navy medical personnel staff the ship's hospital while the mariners employed by Military Sealift Command operate and maintain the ship's navigation and engineering systems.
Built in the 1980s, the ship is 894 feet long, the length of three football fields and equipped with a helicopter deck. The ship provides 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms, intensive care units, a CT scanner, blood banks, full-serve pharmacies and physical-therapy facilities. It weighs 69,360 tons (70,473.10 metric tons) fully loaded, can travel at 17.5 knots (20.13 mph); and ship's compliment is 71 civilian mariners, plus up to 1,200 medical personnel.
Throughout its history, the U.S. Navy has maintained a hospital ship capacity and used this capability, at times to support non-combat-related operations such as humanitarian assistance and natural disaster relief missions. The COMFORT is equipped to handle large-scale disasters.
• In 2010, the ship was sent to Haiti after a large earthquake.
• In 2005, the ship docked in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
• In 2003, the ship spent 56 days in the Persian Gulf during the invasion of Iraq.
• The Comfort provided showers, meals and beds to relief workers following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City.