The Navy hospital ship Comfort sailed into the New York City harbor Monday, bringing 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms, a lab, pharmacy, CT scanners and more than 1,000 military medical personnel ready to relieve pressure on city hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus.
In command is Capt. Patrick K. Amersbach, a native of Bowie with more than 20 years as a health care professional in the Navy.
New Yorkers cheered from the harbor shoreline Monday morning as the USNS Comfort arrived in Manhattan with a Coast Guard escort to help the city’s medical staff combat the coronavirus.
The Comfort is crewed by civilian mariners and gets most of its medical staff from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Its sister ship, the USNS Mercy, went departed from San Diego to Los Angeles last week with a similar mission.
At a press conference Monday, Rear Adm. John Mustin, vice commander of the Norfolk-based U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said the ship “represents all that is good about the American people."
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In a statement released by the Navy, Amersbach said the ship arrived prepared to help during its first visit to New York since the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
“We are ready and grateful to serve the needs of our nation,” Amersbach said.
The ship began receiving patients Tuesday. All patient transfers are being coordinated with local hospitals.
Amersbach is a 1982 graduate of Bowie High School. He joined the Navy under the Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program in 1991 after serving eight years as a staff sergeant in the Military Police, according to his Navy biography. He graduated with a bachelor’s in Nursing from Hawaii Pacific University and has a doctorate from George Washington University in Health Policy and Care Delivery.
Once commissioned as an ensign in 1994 he began a career that has seen him serve in all corners of the world. He reported as the commanding officer of the Comfort in July.