WAVY’s Navy Ship Salute is a feature on WAVY News 10 Today. Each month, in partnership with the U.S. Navy, WAVY-TV 10 will profile a different ship based at the world’s largest Navy base: Naval Station Norfolk. The series aims to better introduce our viewers to some of the largest floating taxpayer assets there are, as well as life aboard a U.S. Navy ship.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – USNS Comfort is a Mercy-Class hospital ship that was first delivered to the Navy in 1987.

Since then, it has been on dozens of missions providing mobile acute surgical medical care to the U.S. military along with hospital services worldwide as a part of disaster relief and humanitarian missions.

The ship was originally built in 1975 in San Diego by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company as a San Clemente-class supertanker. In 1986 it was converted to the ship it is today and it’s more than 900 feet long.

It’s a steam-powered vessel that burns diesel fuel, notes USNS Comfort Chief Engineer Joe Watts, and there’s a team of six people down in its engine room.

How do they do what they do?

“Communications,” said Capt. Troy Bruemmer. “We use a process called bridge resource management. Back in the day captains were the sole person in charge (and) it’s now a group effort. Everybody has a collective say. Everybody has an opinion; if they see something, they have to say something.”

Bruemmer outlined the different parts of the ship, and noted its earlier role versus the one it has now. Back in the 1980s, the ship was a supertanker, but it was since converted to the hospital ship that it is today.

“So from the engine room to the bridge,” Bruemmer said, “everybody has a collective role in the on-the-way and the arrival process.”