Mission complete: USNS Comfort returning to Naval Station Norfolk


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY/AP) – The Norfolk-based USNS Comfort and its 620 doctors, nurses and other crew members departed from New York Thursday to return to its homeport in Hampton Roads.

The Navy hospital ship has spent the past month docked in New York Harbor. The crew was sent there to help with COVID-19 response.

The ship is expected to return to Naval Station Norfolk Saturday, May 2.

On Friday, Chopper 10 got video of the Comfort in the Chesapeake Bay.

Moments before Thursday’s departure from New York, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy spoke to the media pierside.

“Incredibly proud of the work that the sailors on the Comfort have provided, the healthcare they provided to New York City, as they came in here to the harbor they represented Comfort, they represented hope for New York City. As they came in they had to adapt,” he said. “The situation has changed, but we’re not done.” Gen. O’Shaughnessy said they will continue with military doctors and nurses embedded in the hospital system in New York.

New York is the hardest-hit state in the U.S. with nearly 300,000 cases and more than 18,000 deaths. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has used the mantra “plan for the worst, hope for the best” to defend his push for field hospitals that have, so far, gone largely unused.

The Comfort spent 31 days at Pier 90 in New York City and treated just under 200 people. Eleven people treated on the ship died, the Defense Department said.

On Friday night, the USNS Comfort posted a video on social media documenting its time in New York. The crew did more than 110 surgical procedures, including appendectomies and tracheotomies, and more than 540 X-rays and CT scans.

The ship’s pharmacy also prepared 9,000-plus oral and intravenous medications and help distribute 264,441 PPE and 860 patient trays.

The final patient left the ship on Sunday and the crew began preparations to return to Naval Station Norfolk for its next life-saving mission.

During its trip back to Virginia, the Navy says all personnel aboard the Comfort will be tested for COVID-19 and will then remain under a 14-day restriction once the mission is officially complete. They will either remain on the Comfort, at their homes or will receive other lodging accommodations during that restriction of movement (ROM) period.

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