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by John Konrad (gCaptain) At the Port of Los Angeles, the locomotive engineer who purposefully ran his train off the tracks at full-speed in an apparent attempt to sink the US Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy has been sentenced to prison for committing a terrorist attack.
According to the US Justice Department, neither the USNS Mercy nor anyone else was harmed in the derailment of the train in 2020. The train tracks ended 250 meters before the ship pier, so Moreno did not even come close to damaging the ship, but he did damage his train and cause a 2,000-gallon diesel oil spill.
The incident occurred just days after the ship arrived in Los Angeles under presidential orders to help local hospitals that were overwhelmed by COVID victims.
The ship is one of two US military hospital ships, with 1,000 beds, 800 medical staff, emergency rooms, and intensive care units. The USNS Mercy, operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, is homeported at Naval Base San Diego. The sister ship, USNS Comfort, homeported in Naval Station Norfolk, was deployed to New York City at the same time.
Mercy and Comfort’s original role was to treat non-COVID patients, but just five days into its mission it became apparent that to provide the best care, it would need to treat all patients regardless of whether or not they had the virus. The ships did much to lift the spirits of a confused and frightened nation, but they were not designed to combat infectious disease, so the extent to which they helped New York and Los Angeles was marginal at best.
Asked why he tried to sink a hospital ship with his train, engineer Eduardo Moreno told police and the FBI he was “suspicious” about the ship’s real purpose.
In his original statement to California police Moreno said, “You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will,” it said.
After pleading guilty in December to “committing a terrorist attack against a railroad carrier”, According to a court statement, Moreno was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $755,880 in restitution.
© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.
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