March 28, 2020
Complied from the reports of the White House Press Office and United States Navy Public Affairs Office.
NORFOLK, VA– The USNS Comfort is currently underway after a send off from President Donald J. Trump. The ship is currently underway and is scheduled to arrive in New York City on Monday March 30, 2020. The ship will be used to treat non-COVID-19 patients to free up more room in the regular hospital system for COVID-19 patients.
Selected remarks from President Donald J. Trump prior USNS Comfort getting underway at Naval Station Norfolk.
Today, I’m deeply honored to be at Naval Station Norfolk — the largest naval base anywhere in the world, and the home to the most powerful fleet that has ever sailed the seas. I just passed some of the most beautiful and, frankly, the most highly lethal ships that I have ever seen in my life, and there are a lot of them. And they’re in better shape now than they have been for many, many decades, with what we’re doing.
We’re grateful to be joined by Commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces, Admiral Christopher Grady, and Commander of the U.S. Second Fleet, Vice Admiral Woody Lewis. Thank you both for being here. We appreciate it very much.
As we gather today, our country is at war with an invisible enemy. We are marshalling the full power of the American nation — economic, scientific, medical, and military — to vanquish the virus. And we will do that.
Today, I’m here to express my profound gratitude to the dedicated service members who will soon be on the frontlines of this fight. In a few moments, the crew of the Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort — which is really something — will embark for New York City, where they will join the ranks of tens of thousands of amazing doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who are battling to save American lives.
This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York — a place I know very well, a place I love. We’re here for you, we’re fighting for you, and we are with you all the way, and we always will be. You have the unwavering support of the entire nation, the entire government, and the entire American people.
After being rushed out of maintenance with historic speed — it was supposed to be here for four weeks, and they did it in four days — the Comfort will arrive at Pier 90 in Manhattan on Monday, three weeks ahead of schedule. Its crew will begin treating patients on Tuesday. It will be met in New York Harbor by Governor Cuomo, who I just spoke with; he’s very excited — and they need the help.
The skilled sailors and civilian mariners aboard this ship will provide a critical surge capacity for the New York metropolitan area. Their mission will be to care for New Yorkers who do not have the virus but who require urgent care. In other words, they’ll be using this — people will be coming out of hospitals who don’t have the virus, and they’ll be on the ship where they have great operating rooms and great facilities. And the places inbound, on land, will be where people that have the virus will be. So the people with the virus will not be on ship. The ship will be used for people having operations and other things other than that.
By serving these emergency patients away from the hospitals, beds will be opened up all over the city for those who are infected. This ship can handle a lot of people, so it will open capacity all over the city. And it will be ready to address any life-threatening medical emergency. It is stocked. It’s stocked to the brim with equipment and medicines and everything you can think of. Importantly, by treating non-infected patients remotely on the ship, it will help to halt, very strongly, the transmission of the virus.
The Comfort’s sister ship on the West Coast, the USNS Mercy, arrived ahead of schedule, substantially, in port yesterday. Governor Gavin Newsom was very thankful for it. They’re working very hard in California. It’s performing a similar mission for the people of Los Angeles and the people of California.
As the USNS Comfort gets underway, it is fully loaded with 12 operating rooms — and they are fully equipped — 1,000 hospital beds, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, digital radiology, a CAT scan, two oxygen-producing plants, and a helicopter deck, which will be used very actively.
It also bears our military’s greatest weapon of all: a crew of nearly 1,200 outstanding members of the United States Navy. And I thank them very much. Among the sailors departing today are some of the finest doctors, nurses, technicians, orderlies, and medical staff anywhere in the world. These are true professionals. And no one performs better under pressure when lives are on the line. These are incredible people. –President Donald J. Trump