USNS Mercy Departs Los Angeles

Mike Schuler
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May 15, 2020

USNS Mercy departs the Port of Los Angeles, May 15, 2020. Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles.

The USNS Mercy departed the Port of Los Angeles Friday morning after seven weeks supporting COVID-19 relief efforts in the region. 

The 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship arrived in Los Angeles on March 27 to serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID patients so local hospitals would be available for the expected surge of coronavirus patients. 

Despite its 1,000 bed capacity, the USNS Mercy treated just 77 patients, with the last being discharge on May 5, according to reports. None of the patients were COVID-19 positive. 

USNS Mercy is now returning to its homeport in San Diego, California.

“The medical professionals aboard Mercy are proud and humbled to have assisted FEMA, the State of California, Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles, while serving as a ‘relief valve’ to the community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Captain John Rotruck, Comfort’s Commanding Officer. “Every patient brought aboard created one more available bed in a local hospital.” 

With the Mercy’s departure, around 60 medical personnel from the ship will remain in the Los Angeles region to support California’s response requirements.

“Our work to protect public health and safety is far from done but having the Mercy and its highly-trained medical personnel stationed in the most populous region of the state was critical to our ability to respond in the first stages of the pandemic,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of California’s Office of Emergency Services.

Mercy’s sister ship, USNS Comfort, was previously deployed to New York Harbor, but within a week of accepting patients on board it was opened up to patients regardless of their COVID-19 status.

USNS Comfort departed New York on April 30 after treating 182 patients, 70 percent of which were COVID-19 positive.  

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