NORFOLK (NNS) -- Ready to answer the nation’s call, Navy Reserve Sailors reported to the Military Sealift Command’s hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) March 25, to support the ship’s upcoming medical relief mission to New York City.
Preparing for the ship’s COVID-19 response deployment, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command selected more than 120 volunteers from a group of Navy Reserve medical professionals and other ratings to embark on the ship in support of the upcoming mission.
“Right now, medical centers are doing everything they can to help their communities,” said Lt. Derek Hinkley, selected from Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) White River Junction, New Hampshire, to support the response effort. “I see this mission as an opportunity to do what we can to help, in whatever way we can.”
This was the second short-fused request for reserve support on a Navy hospital ship as nearly 60 Reserve Sailors departed Wednesday on the USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) in support of the COVID-19 response efforts in Los Angeles.
Comfort will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. This allows shore-based hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases.
One of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people.
“The sheer strength of what the ship can do, from all the cat scans, to full operating rooms and how fast it can be there to support different areas is awesome,” said Yeoman 1st Class Chad Williams, who traveled from NOSC Washington D.C. “This mission is important because it shows that we are not only doing humanitarian missions outside of the U.S., but that we support missions inside the country as well.”
The ability to rapidly provide support to missions like the Comfort’s is a key purpose of the continual training and mobilization readiness efforts of the Navy Reserve, but the motivated responses from the volunteer Sailors was remarkable.
Rear Adm. John Schommer, deputy commander for Commander, Navy Reserve Force, says the response to the call for volunteers was humbling.
“We diligently ensured our volunteer reservists are available to support the medical relief efforts without impacting their local and state communities,” said Schommer. “When we were asked to help find medical professionals to help support this mission, we received hundreds of volunteer requests from our reserve medical community in less than 24 hours.”
Another volunteer, Chief Hospital Corpsman Robert Willis, from NOSC Charlotte, stressed the importance of the response effort. “Supporting this national mission and helping to contain this virus is important,” said Willis. “I want to help in whatever way I can to make sure it gets eradicated.”
The Navy Reserve prides itself on being a ready, agile force providing valuable and vital support to the Navy and the Nation. Today, the Reserve force consists of 59,641 Selected Reserve Sailors (including 10,153 Full Time Support members) 43,754 Individual Ready Reserve members and 422 civilians. The Navy Reserve team, over 100,000 strong, delivers strategic depth and operational capability to the Navy and Marine Corps team and Joint Forces in times of peace and war.
For U.S. Navy COVID-19 updates, visit https://navylive.dodlive.mil/2020/03/15/u-s-navy-covid-19-updates/
For more Reserve information about COVID-19, visit www.mynrh.navy.mil
For more information about COVID-19, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
For more news from Commander, Navy Reserve Force, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrf/.