The USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort have literally steamed their way to Los Angeles and New York, respectively. They are the longest-serving hospital ships in continuous operation in the nation’s history, and in biological terms, old age is a liability for COVID-19 patients. In terms of Navy hospital ships, old is all the nation’s got.
Both ships have been deployed to the nation’s two largest cities. Their original mission was to treat patients that don’t have COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, to free up medical workers on shore to focus on the pandemic.
That’s still the mandate for the Mercy. But the Comfort’s mission changed after news that it was receiving few non-coronavirus patients even as local hospitals battled at the front line of the nation’s coronavirus epicenter. The New York-berthed ship is now taking patients regardless of their