Navy’s 1,000-bed hospital ship arrives in Los Angeles to ease surge of coronavirus patients – here’s what’s inside

The hospital ship USNS Mercy transits the Pacific Ocean toward Guam.

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen | US Navy

WASHINGTON — A U.S. military hospital ship arrived in Los Angeles on Friday to help local efforts to beat back the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The arrival of USNS Mercy comes as the nation’s coronavirus cases crossed 100,000, surpassing the national tallies of China and Italy.

Last week, President Donald Trump ordered the dispatch of the USNS Mercy to Los Angeles and her twin, the USNS Comfort, to New York.

Steve King, a Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest forklift driver, prepares to deliver pallets during a supply load aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) at Naval Base San Diego, March 21, 2020.

Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Mike Jones | US Navy

The USNS Mercy departed her home port of San Diego on Monday with nearly 900 staff on board to take on noncoronavirus patients in an effort to alleviate local hospitals.

The USNS Comfort is slated to arrive in New York from its home port in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday.

The hospital ship USNS Mercy navigates alongside the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln after arriving on station near Banda Aceh, Sumamtra, Indonesia, February 3, 2005.

Gabriel R. Piper | Reuters | US Navy

The vessels, which were transformed from hulking oil tankers into 1,000-bed hospital ships, are nearly three football fields long and 10 stories high, making them indisputably the largest hospital ships in the world.

Both ships have side ports to take on patients at sea as well as helicopter decks for air transport. The ships are so massive, each would be tantamount to the fourth-biggest hospital in the United States.

Sailors embarked aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort escort a patient to an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22.

Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ernest R. Scott | US Navy

The USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort are equipped with 12 operating rooms, a blood bank, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab and a CAT scan.

 Both vessels have 15 patient wards, 80 ICU beds and 10 elevators to transfer patients between decks. 

Sailors perform a surgical procedure in an operating room aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort.

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Ray Nunez Jr. | US Navy

On Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state is at the epicenter of the coronavirus, called for the number of available hospital beds to expand from 53,000 to 140,000. New York has at least 44,870 cases of the coronavirus, the most of any state, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday that the number of coronavirus cases in his city will soon match those of New York.

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