Check Out the First Photos from the Navy's Hospital Ship in Los Angeles

Logistics Specialist 1st Class Tavares Littleton, from Chicago, raises the National Ensign during morning colors aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) March 29. Mercy deployed in support of the nation's COVID-19 response efforts. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan M. Breeden)

USNS Mercy, one of the U.S. Navy's two seaborne floating hospitals, has deployed all over the world in support of humanitarian operations and training exercises. Its latest deployment brings it just 120 miles north of its home port.

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrives in Los Angeles March 27. ((U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Mora Jr.)

The 1,000-bed hospital ship arrived in the Port of Los Angeles on Mar. 27, 2020. The ship, a converted oil tanker, is set to accept patients who are not infected with COVID-19 in order to alleviate pressure on hospitals in the LA area.

Mercy took its first patient just two days after its arrival.

A patient is guided towards hospital ship USNS Mercy in Los Angeles March 29, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Alexa M. Hernandez)

Read: Everything You Need to Know About the Navy's Hospital Ships

Hospitals in the area are expected to be overrun with patients of all kinds. Mercy is not the only help sought by the city. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced via Twitter that the LA Convention Center will be converted to a federal field hospital and that the California National Guard will also be mobilized to help local hospitals.

Sailors assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) treat the first patient from Los Angeles medical facilities, March 29, 2020. (U.S. Navy/ Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erwin Jacob Miciano)

As the staff of the Mercy is filled with mostly military medical practitioners, trauma cases are the ship's primary expertise.

The ship took 7 days to arrive in Los Angeles after departing from its home station at Naval Base San Diego. According to Capt. John Rotruck, Mercy's Military Treatment Facility commanding officer, the hospital will also support FEMA as well as state and local authorities.

Sailors prepare to admit the first non-Coronavirus patient aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy. ((U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abigayle Lutz)

"Being able to accept our first patients is a true testament of the teamwork between Mercy, the Navy, the State of California, the county of Los Angeles, and the City and Port of L.A.," Capt. Rotruck said in a statement. "The men and women embarked on board Mercy are energized, eager, and ready to provide relief to those in need."


It's critical that the hospital ship is only used for non-COVID-19 cases, as the floating hospital has no way of isolating patients and hospitalized persons aboard Mercy are sometimes stacked in bunks two beds deep.

Mercy will also provide general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults.

Sailors assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy tend to the first non-Coronavirus patient from Los Angeles medical facilities, March 29, 2020. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erwin Jacob Miciano)

For the 1,000 beds the ship holds, there are more than 1,200 military medical personnel to tend to them. Mercy's shipboard operations are handled by 70 civil service mariners from the Military Sealift Command, who maintain ship functions.

Meanwhile in New York City, the USNS Comfort, the Navy’s East Coast-based floating hospital, has arrived in New York Harbor after departing from its home port of Virginia’s Naval Station Norfolk.

Coast Guard assets, along with New York Police Department and New York Fire Department assets, provide a security escort for the USNS Comfort arrival into New York Harbor, March 30, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall)

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at

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