President Donald Trump on Saturday gave Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) at Naval Station Norfolk a send-off to New York City.
Trump was joined by U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
This marks Trump’s first trip outside Washington since March 9 and only his second outside the gates of the White House since a March 19 trip to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, had been undergoing planned maintenance, but was rushed back into service to aid the city which is now the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak. It is scheduled to arrive Monday at a Manhattan pier a week after its sister ship, the USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles to preform similar duty on the West Coast.
Comfort will start treating non-coronavirus patients Tuesday. New York City has more than 75,000 positive cases of coronavirus.
Both vessels have a long record of accomplishment in humanitarian responses throughout the western hemisphere.
The president acknowledged that making the 140-mile trip to Naval Station Norfolk wasn’t necessary, but said he did it to recognize the work of sailors and medical professionals who worked to get the ship out of maintenance more than a week ahead of schedule.
“With the grace of God we will win this war and we will win gracefully with as little death as possible,” Trump said. “We will be prepared if, God forbid, anything like this even happens again.”
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The Comfort comes with 12 fully equipped operating rooms and up to 1,200 doctors, nurses and medical specialists.