August 19, 2022

U.S. Veterans

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USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) Military Hospital Ship

2 min read

The USNS Comfort is one of two hospital ships in the Mercy-class maintained by the United States Navy.

USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort are comparable to some of the largest trauma hospitals in the United States. Each ship contains 12 fully equipped operating rooms, a bed capacity of 1,000 and can boast of digital radiological services, medical laboratories, full-serve pharmacies, blood banks, medical equipment repair shops, prosthetics and physical therapy.

USNS Mercy by the Numbers:
1,200 Personnel (up to)
4 Radiology Suites
12 Operating Rooms
1 CT Scanner
5,000 Units of Blood (can hold up to)
80 Intensive Care Beds
20 Recovery Care Beds
280 Intermediate Care Beds
120 Light Care Beds
500 Limited Care Beds
1,000 Total Patient Beds

USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) has a long and impressive history in service to the Navy, but it’s actually the third ship in Naval History to be named for the general word classification associated with hospital ships. Comfort I (AH-3) was commissioned March 18, 1918, and worked mainly in the Atlantic helping return wounded men home from Europe during World War I. The second Comfort (AH-6) was commissioned on May 5, 1944, and operated throughout World War II with a Navy crew and Army medical personnel.

The third MERCY (T-AH 19) was built as an oil tanker, SS WORTH, by National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego , in 1976. Starting in July 1984, she was renamed and converted to a hospital ship by the same company. Launched on 20 July 1985 , USNS MERCY was commissioned 8 November 1986.

USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) was placed in service with the Military Sealift Command on Dec. 1, 1987. Getting its first service during a time of war in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the ship’s medical teams saw more than 8,000 outpatients, admitted 700 inpatients, and performed 337 complex surgical procedures that often proved impossible to perform in the limited combat hospitals ashore.

The Navy’s floating surgical hospitals have played a vital role throughout the history of the U.S. Navy by providing acute medical and surgical care to readiness forces throughout the world. The U.S. Navy used hospital ships during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The 75-year history of Comfort provides an excellent example of the vital role hospital ships play in support of the Navy’s mission.

Video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Abigayle Lutz
Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet

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