As the Navy gears up to send hospital ships to areas hit hard by the Coronavirus (COVID 19), the one heading to New York likely won’t be ready to operate there for weeks, defense officials said.
President Donald Trump said Sunday the Navy’s pair of hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and its sister ship, the USNS Mercy will soon be stationed on the East and West coasts to help relieve stress on American medical facilities.
According to the Military.com, the Comfort is currently undergoing maintenance in Norfolk.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. Leaders are working to expedite the work, but it’s likely to take weeks — not days — to complete, he said.
“It’s going to be a little while,” Hoffman said.
The ships have a dozen fully equipped operating rooms, can house 1,000 hospital beds, and has labs, pharmacies and oxygen-producing plants.
“They’re massive ships, the big white ships with the red cross on the sides,” Trump said during Wednesday’s coronavirus update. “… They are in tiptop shape; they soon will be.”
The military is assessing staffing levels for each ship, Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon, told reporters. The Pentagon is working with local leaders to assess their needs so the ships are staffed appropriately, he added.
“Our understanding is that the intent is the ships will be used to take non-coronavirus patients, which is what our staff are best assigned and organized to do,” the general said. “If that’s the case, then we’ll adjust the numbers and the mix of staff based on what we learn from the local leadership.”
The crews are likely to include active-duty personnel, Hoffman added, since they can be mobilized and deployed quickest.
Information from Military.com was used for this story.