USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrives in San Diego on May 15, 2020. US Navy Photo

Public excitement and relief greeted the March arrival of the Navy’s hospital ships in Los Angeles and New York City for their COVID-19 relief mission. But the excitement faded as the ships treated fewer than expected COVID-19 patients and left for their homeports with muted fanfare.

USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) left the port of Los Angeles on May 15 after treating only 77 non-infected patients. The Norfolk, Va.-based USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) had returned to Virginia two weeks earlier after treating 182 patients in its month in New York City.

The missions in New York and Los Angeles and the few patients treated has reignited lingering questions about the future of the converted supertankers

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