American merchant mariners are designated as essential workers during
the current coronavirus pandemic. They cannot stay at home as their
jobs are performed at sea, in the harbors, along the Great Lakes or on
the inland waterways.
Mariners move all kinds of cargo — from badly needed grains and food
products to feed those in struggling parts of the world to military
gear required by U.S. armed forces positioned globally. Mariners have
answered the nation’s call to action since the days of the
Revolutionary War and continue to do so today 24/7.
During this pandemic, Americans have watched as two U.S. Naval
hospital ships, the Mercy and the Comfort, this week sailed into the
ports of Los Angeles and New York respectively.
Each of these vessels provides an extra 1,000 hospital beds as well as
operating rooms, x-ray facilities and pharmacies, staffed by highly
trained U.S. Navy medical personnel. The ships’ assignment is to help
local hospitals with non-virus patients.
However, what makes both ships move are the highly skilled men and
women of the U.S. merchant marine, represented by the Seafarers
International Union; the Masters, Mates and Pilots; and the Marine
Engineers’ Beneficial Association. These are the people on the bridge,
in the engine room and inside the galleys who sail these vessels.
These civilian mariners work with the Navy crew to make sure the Mercy
and Comfort are ready when called to duty.
Previous actions over the years have seen the Mercy and Comfort sail
to assist victims of hurricanes, earthquakes and other tragedies in
the U.S. and around the world as well as offering humanitarian medical
visits to Central and South American nations.
The MTD thanks all the men and women of the U.S. merchant marine who
continue to deliver the goods for their fellow Americans during these