USNS Comfort gets ready to return to Hampton Roads

Supplies and personnel are loaded aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) at Naval Station Norfolk, March 24, 2020. (Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Sheppard)

The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship sent to relieve stress on New York City hospitals at the height the pandemic, discharged or transferred its last 12 patients this weekend, according to Northwell Health, which provides operational assistance to the vessel.

The Comfort, docked at a Manhattan pier since March 30, will soon leave for its homeport in Norfolk where it will restock and be readied for another possible assignment, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. He did not provide a date for the ship’s departure.

As of Saturday, the 1,000-bed hospital ship had treated just 182 patients.

Originally deployed to care for patients without coronavirus, the Comfort switched gears and started accepting them as the city’s hospitals became overrun with people suffering from the disease.

The Comfort comes with 12 fully equipped operating rooms and up to 1,200 doctors, nurses and medical specialists.

The Navy said Comfort comes with an array of medical equipment and services, including digital radiology, medical and optometry labs, a pharmacy, a CAT scanner and two oxygen-producing plants.

Hoffman said the Comfort’s impending departure “is a sure sign of modest progress in mitigating the virus in the nation’s hardest hit city and is a welcome sign.”

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