US Navy ship in Los Angeles for coronavirus relief sees first patients, 'open for business'

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The U.S. Navy hospital ship sent to Los Angeles to help relieve the strain of the coronavirus pandemic on area hospitals saw its first patients arrive on Sunday.

The USNS Mercy docked Friday off the coast of LA to "serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients" who are currently hospitalized on land.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our crew for all the hard work they did to get us here and ready in such a short time,” Capt. John Rotruck, the commander of the Mercy, said in a statement. “Being able to accept our first patients is a true testament of the teamwork between Mercy, the Navy, the State of California, the county of Los Angeles, and the City and Port of L.A.”

USNS MERCY MISSION AIMS TO EASE STRAIN ON LOS ANGELES-AREA HOSPITALS, COMMANDER SAYS

Photos released by the Navy on Sunday show sailors transporting a patient to be admitted on the hospital ship.

Sailors transport a patient to be admitted aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy on Sunday, the first day the hospital ship saw patients while docked in Los Angeles..

Sailors transport a patient to be admitted aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy on Sunday, the first day the hospital ship saw patients while docked in Los Angeles.. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan M. Breeden)

The first patients to arrive on the ship can be seen being attended to by sailors inside.

Sailors assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy treat the first patient from Los Angeles medical facilities, March 29, 2020.

Sailors assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy treat the first patient from Los Angeles medical facilities, March 29, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erwin Jacob Miciano)

"#USNSMercy is open for business!" the U.S. Navy tweeted Monday morning.

Other images show sailors making final preparations on Sunday, wearing protective gear as they prepared for the arrival

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kimberly Wyss, from Ventura, Calif., dons surgical gloves aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy March 29, the first day the hospital ship saw patients in Los Angeles.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kimberly Wyss, from Ventura, Calif., dons surgical gloves aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy March 29, the first day the hospital ship saw patients in Los Angeles. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan M. Breeden)

While docked in Los Angeles, Mercy will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to hospitals on land. The Navy said the ship will provide a "full spectrum of medical care," including general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults.

Sailors prepare for incoming patients aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy March 29 in Los Angeles.

Sailors prepare for incoming patients aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy March 29 in Los Angeles. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan M. Breeden)

Rotruck told "Fox & Friends Weekend" the ship acts as a "relief valve to local hospitals" that can focus on coronavirus patients.

Logistics Specialist 1st Class Tavares Littleton, from Chicago, raises the American flag during morning colors aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Logistics Specialist 1st Class Tavares Littleton, from Chicago, raises the American flag during morning colors aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy on Sunday in Los Angeles. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan M. Breeden)

“Five days after the activation order, we set sail,” he told "Fox & Friends Weekend," adding that once the ship arrived in Los Angeles, “we were ready to see patients,” especially because crew members did “a lot of team training” while they were en route to the nation's second-largest city.

US NAVY SHIP HEADED TO LOS ANGELES FOR CORONAVIRUS RELIEF: HERE'S A LOOK INSIDE

The features onboard the Mercy include 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000 hospital beds, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen-producing plants.

The Navy's hospital ships – Mercy and sister ship on the East Coast, USNS Comfort – are equipped with a helicopter deck capable of landing large military helicopters and also have side ports to take on patients at sea.

USNS Comfort is deploying to New York, an epicenter of the nation's coronavirus crisis.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

When fully operational, the hospital ships have a crew of about 71 civilians and up to 1,200 Navy medical and communications personnel, depending on the mission.

“The men and women embarked on board Mercy are energized, eager, and ready to provide relief to those in need,” Rotruck said Sunday.

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As of Monday, California had 6,345 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 132 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Fox News' Talia Kaplan contributed to this report.