How meteorologists & oceanographers guided the USNS Comfort to New York

USNS Comfort pulls into New York City
Posted at 10:51 AM, Apr 07, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - Navy hospital ships USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort are playing a critical role as America responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The San Diego-based USNS Mercy is now treating patients in Los Angeles, while the Norfolk-based USNS Comfort is treating patients in New York. Both are providing relief to overwhelmed healthcare systems.

On Monday, President Trump approved a change allowing the Comfort to now treat patients who test positive for COVID-19. Previously, both ships had only been treating patients who tested negative.

Before either ship could begin treating patients, they had to safely travel to Los Angeles and New York on a relatively short notice.

Enter Naval Oceanography's team of meteorologists and oceanographers.

Back on March 20th, the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center was tasked with rapidly configuring two "ship-following coupled ocean/atmosphere mesoscale prediction systems," also known as COAMPS, for the Mercy and Comfort.

Those provide specific weather, wave, and ocean predictions.

Rear Admiral John Okon is the commander of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.

"Ships following COAMPS highlights Naval Oceanography’s culture of innovation. No other operational command in the world is able to provide an afloat unit a tailored and relocatable high-resolution model, and forecasts. Whenever, and wherever, the Navy operates, Naval Oceanography stands ready to deliver its advanced capabilities," Okon said in a statement.

COAMPS allow continuous coverage of atmospheric model data when ships at sea aren't operating in normal or static forecast model locations.

Editor's Note: This is the second in a week-long series of reports from News 3 looking at what it took to prepare and now sustain the USNS Comfort for this important mission. You can see the first report here.