On Monday, the USNS Comfort arrived to New York City and docked at Pier 90. The U.S. Navy ship is here to treat patients from New York hospitals who do not have coronavirus, but need other care. We documented the ship’s arrival but the Navy has also released video and photographs of what the ship looks like inside, as the crew train and prepare for the first patients to arrive.
According to the Navy, the Comfort serves as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients that are currently in the city’s hospitals, allowing “shore-based hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases.” The imagery shared on board show some of the treatment areas, the pharmacy, and the bridge of the ship. There are photos of the staff training for patient transport and transfer, calibrating equipment, as well as photos of the staff training on how to use personal protective equipment.
Sailors practice patient transfer from the pier onto the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) as they prepare to admit patients. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman.
Patients that are admitted on board the ship will be screened for coronavirus symptoms before being admitted. The USNS Comfort hospital ship is operated by Military Sealift Command and is here on authorization of the Department of Defense’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities mission. As the U.S. Navy states, the “DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people.” On board are Navy sailors, military and civilian doctors, civil service mariners, and more.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman.
The current USNS Comfort was built in 1976 originally as an oil tanker for the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, named the SS Rose City. In 1987, it became part of the U.S. Navy as a hospital ship. Beyond the hospital beds and surgery rooms, the USNS Comfort has a lot of different departments including an intensive care unit, laboratory, radiology, a medical pharmacy, morgue, optometry, physical therapy, dental services, oxygen producing plants, and four seawater distillation plants that can turn seawater into drinking water.
Sailors practice admitting a patient. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman.
Historically, the use of floating hospitals has precedent. Bellevue Hospital used floating wards in the effort to control tuberculosis in New York City. The USNS Comfort is also no stranger to New York City. After 9/11, it was docked and in action at Pier 92 in Manhattan. The ship has also served in the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, for Hurricane Katrina, for the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Hurricane Maria in 2017, and more.
All photos from the U.S. Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released