USNS Comfort departs New York after aiding in coronavirus battle

by Editorial Team

The USNS Comfort, the Navy Hospital ship President Trump sent to New York to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic, began sailing away from Manhattan Thursday, the NYPD said.

“HAPPENING NOW: @USNavy#Comfort pulls out of Pier 90 in Manhattan. The NYPD Harbor Unit, as well as the @USCG @USCGNortheast will provide a security zone around the hospital ship as it heads down the Hudson River,” the department tweeted.

“The #NYPD Harbor Unit proudly flies the @USNavy flag while escorting the #USNSComfort down the Hudson River,” they wrote in a second tweet.

The Comfort was also saluted by New York’s Bravest and Finest as it sailed away, with an impressive array of vessels and vehicles on hand.

A ceremonial cannon salute was also fired off from Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn as it entered New York Harbor.

Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet and Maritime Component Element-East, said the Comfort would continue to assist in the fight against the pandemic.

“USNS Comfort arrived in New York City to provide relief to frontline healthcare providers, and each patient who was brought aboard ensured one more bed was available in a local hospital,” he said.

“While the ship is departing New York City, make no mistake, the fight is not over, and we stand ready to support the response to COVID-19 in whatever capacity we are needed.”

The ship docked in Manhattan on March 30, and while it was originally deployed to care for non-coronavirus patients, by April 6 it had begun accepting those with the virus as the city’s hospitals continued to crowd.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that the ship was no longer needed as stresses on the hospital system appeared to be easing.

As of Saturday, the 1,000-bed hospital ship had treated 182 patients, and the last were discharged this week, according to the Navy.

The 1,000-bed vessel will return to Norfolk to be restocked and prepped for another possible assignment, Navy officials said Tuesday.

The ship’s departure is a “sure sign of modest progress in mitigating the virus in the nation’s hardest-hit city and is a welcome sign,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told NBC New York.

All of the patients who were treated on the ship have been sent home or transferred to another hospital, Navy spokesperson Mary Cate Walsh told NBC News.

“Even as USNS Comfort departs NYC, the ship and its embarked medical task force remain prepared for future tasking,” the Navy said in a statement.

“The Navy, along with other U.S. Northern Command dedicated forces, remains engaged throughout the nation in support of the broader COVID-19 response.”

The ship will return to a “Ready 5” status for future tasking in COVID-19 operations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Navy officials said.

Civilian mariners staff the vessel and the majority of its medical workers are from the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth.


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