Pentagon reprograms $335 million for cargo vessels, hospital ships

By Justin Katz / March 23, 2020 at 10:57 AM

The Navy has shifted $335 million from an operations and maintenance account to the National Defense Sealift Fund for more than a dozen roll-on/roll-off cargo vessels as well as two hospital ships, according to a Pentagon document.

Most of the funds -- $248 million -- will be used for operations and maintenance of 10 large, medium-speed, RO/RO ships and five RO/RO container vessels, according to the March 19 reprogramming memo signed by acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker.

The rest of the money -- $86 million -- will be used for two hospital ships, according to the document.

Separately, the Navy has been preparing both its hospital ships, Mercy (T-AH-19) and Comfort (T-AH-20), to aid in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mercy is scheduled to depart San Diego today with 800 Navy medical personnel and 70 civilian mariners aboard, according to a Pentagon statement.

President Trump announced yesterday during a White House briefing the ship would go to Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the Comfort, which is expected to go to New York, is undergoing maintenance prior to its deployment.