President Donald Trump was in Norfolk, Virginia Saturday to help send off the USNS Comfort to New York City to help in the war against the coronavirus pandemic.
"This ship behind me is a 70.000-ton message of hope and solidarity," he said.
The 1,000-bed hospital ship had been undergoing planned maintenance but was called up to provide medical assistance to the city.
"I'm going to see the people who did the work," Trump said as he left the White House. "It was supposed to take four weeks, but it took four days, so pretty good."
Trump said the Comfort's mission will be to provide care for hospitalized patients in New York who do not have the coronavirus, freeing up space for those who do have the disease.
"The ship will be used for people who are having operations and other things," he explained.
Trump said the spread of the disease would be slowed by the removal of non-infected patients from hospitals. New York has 44 percent of the nation's 100,000 coronavirus cases.
"The United States military is all in on this national emergency," added Defense Secretary Mark Esper who joined the president in Norfolk Saturday.
The Comfort began its life as an oil tanker but was outfitted to become a hospital ship in the 1980s. In addition to its 12 operating rooms, it is outfitted with a pharmacy, labs and oxygen making plant.
Trump also noted that thousands of National Guard troops have been mobilized to provide assistance to state and local governments during the national emergency.
"In the next 100 days, the United States will make or acquire more ventilators than we do in a year," he said.
The Comfort is scheduled to arrive at Pier 90 in Manhattan on Monday and will begin seeing patients on Tuesday. The USNS Mercy is performing a similar mission in Los Angeles, California.