Opinion: The Mercy hospital ship is in Portland. Readers want it back in L.A.

U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy steams beneath the Coronado Bridge shortly after setting sail from San Diego in 2006.
U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy steams beneath the Coronado Bridge shortly after setting sail from San Diego in 2006.
(Los Angeles Times)

It’s a question our readers started asking once the severity of the present COVID-19 surge became clear: Where is the massive military hospital ship that docked in the Port of Los Angeles last spring so it could relieve local medical centers?

That naval ship, the USNS Mercy, is currently dry-docked in Portland, undergoing heavy maintenance for at least the next several months. In fact, the Mercy sailed to Portland only weeks after it steamed away from Los Angeles in May, its nearly 1,000 hospital beds having gone largely unused during the initial pandemic wave, which pales in comparison to Southern California’s current crisis.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to request the Mercy’s return to Southern California, echoing what our readers have been saying since November.


Verghese Antony of Torrance wonders why politicians are quiet about the Mercy:

I just cannot understand why more people are not requesting that the naval hospital ship Mercy, which was here last spring, return to Southern California. The best part is that neither the news media, Gov. Gavin Newsom nor Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are talking about it.

The region’s hospitals are overcrowded, and this is the time we need the Mercy or any other hospital ship.

Those who know whom to contact in our government to place this request, please do so. You can save a lot of lives.

Mona Gerecht of Los Angeles mentions both naval hospital ships:

Way back at the beginning of the pandemic, a huge hospital ship, the Mercy, sat in the Port of Los Angeles to accommodate the upcoming overflow of patients. Another such ship was brought to the East Coast.


Where are these ships now? We desperately need more medical facilities and trained staff.

Anne Wold of Rancho Palos Verdes recalls low utilization of the Mercy last spring:

Remember last March when the Navy hospital ship Mercy arrived in San Pedro with 1,000 beds and 800 doctors and nurses prepared to care for non-COVID patients? That underutilized ship cared for only 77 patients during its two months in port before returning to San Diego.

It’s now necessary to bring it back as our intensive care units are slammed with COVID patients. The ship can be available to provide care for non-COVID patients.

Bring back the Mercy.

Christian Africa of El Segundo echoes the other readers:

Is anyone looking into why the USNS Mercy has not been re-deployed to Los Angeles?

Seems crazy that we could get extra hospital beds in the spring, when not needed, but now as L.A. County runs out of ICU space, I haven’t seen it mentioned as an option for adding beds.