PORT OF LOS ANGELES – A symbol of hope sailed into the Port of Los Angeles on Friday to fight a war here at home.
It's the first time the USNS Mercy has been deployed to help a U.S. city during a national emergency – the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve been in the navy about four years now and this is going to be my first deployment,” said Hospital Corpsman, Third Class Alex Berry, a special technologist who works at a feverish pace to get the nearly 900-foot ship ready for what could be its biggest challenge yet.
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“When we go into the room, we need to make sure that all the incisional instrumentation is sterile and ready for patient use,” said Berry.
The Mercy has 1,000 beds on-board, 80 for intensive care patients. It also has 11 operating rooms, one radiology suite, 15 patient wards, and is capable of storing 5,000 units of blood.
“This is important to me because we could sail in and it could be our family on the ship our friends on the ship, any fellow American on the ship,” said Berry.
The Mercy will help alleviate pressure on local hospitals by taking non-COVID-19 patients. But it’s a small part of a much bigger challenge. Governor Gavin Newsom says the Golden State requires an additional 50,000 beds to handle the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want to make sure we provide the best care possible for anyone that comes on,” said Berry.
Meanwhile outside, 71-year-old James Kelly couldn’t help but stare in awe as the ship pulled into the port. He was a merchant seaman for 42 years and realizes the magnitude of the moment.
“It’s great, it’s once in a lifetime. I understand how much goes into putting a vessel like this together, the resources, the crew, it’s a big thing, it’s a big thing,” Kelly said.
It’s a big thing for the sailors as well, who feel proud to be of service at such a dire time.
“Working together with all these people, it makes me realize how lucky we are to have each other, to have the Navy and being part of this team,” said Berry.
A team that’s giving L.A. hope.