Everything to Know About the USNS Comfort, the Hospital Ship Docked in Coronavirus-Stricken New York City

The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, is set to dock in New York City on Monday to help combat the novel coronavirus, which has infected thousands of New York residents.

The ship will not be home to patients infected with coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, but instead for other emergencies. The ship will alleviate the stress on hospitals, allowing them to devote more of their time and resources to COVID-19 patients.

In addition to the ship's 1,000 hospital beds, it also has 80 ICU beds, 12 operating rooms, a blood bank, a medical lab, a pharmacy, radiology suites and a CT scanner. It is filled with around 1,100 staff members, who are all mostly active duty service members of the U.S. Navy. It is unknown if the ship will utilize all spaces during this deployment, or if the full staff has arrived in New York City with the Comfort.

This is the second ship that has been deployed to help combat the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping across the nation. The USNS Mercy was recently sent to the West Coast and docked in Los Angeles on Friday. The ships are the fourth-largest hospitals in the U.S. and both were placed into service in the 1970s.

The ship was sent as part of President Donald Trump's federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to a tracker provided by Johns Hopkins University, there are over 143,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as well as at least 2,572 deaths. In New York state, there are over 60,000 confirmed cases and over 1,000 deaths.

The USNS Comfort is nearly 900 feet long and was originally designed to care for service members who were injured in combat.

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, the Comfort was deployed at Pier 92 to assist first responders. During that deployment, the ship did not operate as a medical facility but rather a place for first responders to eat, sleep and take a shower. The ship also provided clothing and mental health services and treated minor injuries and ailments for law enforcement and others working at Ground Zero.

The ship was deployed a number of other times to assist in areas across the country, including in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita decimated the Gulf Coast region. According to Defense.gov, the original ship named Comfort was used in a similar fashion during the influenza pandemic in 1918. At that time, Comfort and Mercy were briefly stationed in New York City and took care of overflow patients.

USNS Comfort
The USNS Comfort medical ship moves up the Hudson River as it arrives on March 30, 2020 in New York as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey. - A military hospital ship arrived in New York Monday as America's coronavirus epicenter prepares to fight the peak of the pandemic that has killed over 2,500 people across the US. Angela Weiss/Getty

Many prominent government figures have praised the decision to deploy the ship in New York City, which has become the U.S.'s epicenter for the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

"This will right away be making a difference in this city and we are so, so grateful to the navy, to the military that this new ship will be arriving in our city," said New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.

"Welcome to New York, @USNSComfort. We knew from the outset of that expanded hospital capacity was critical. We asked and the federal government answered. This ship is a step forward in our fight against coronavirus," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote in a tweet.

Welcome to New York, @USNSComfort.

We knew from the outset that expanded hospital capacity was critical.

We asked and the federal government answered.

This ship is a step forward in our fight against Coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/r6Hj8NL9JH

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 30, 2020