VIDEO: McAllister Towing docks the USNS Comfort in NYC

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Four McAllister Towing tractor tugs guide the hospital ship USNS COMFORT into her berth at Pier 90 in Manhattan on March 30. (Photo: McAllister/ David Rider

The hospital ship USNS Comfort is now berthed at the Manhattan cruise terminal. Her arrival was hailed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as “something absolutely extraordinary, absolutely inspiring.”

“This ship arriving is not just an example of help arriving in a physical form,” said Mayor de Blasio. “It’s not just about the beds and the doctors and the equipment, it’s also about hope, it’s also about boosting the morale of New Yorkers who are going through so much. It’s about saying to our heroes in those hospitals that help has come. That relief is on the way. I can’t tell you how much this means, it is so much more than even we realize at this moment that our nation has heard our plea for help here in New York City and there could not be a better example of all of America pulling for New York City than the arrival of the USNS Comfort, some major, major moment in this long battle that we will be fighting against the coronavirus.”

The equipment and maritime expertise needed to safely dock the hospital ship was provided by McAllister Towing.

Docking Pilot Captain Robert Ellis was at the helm as the Comfort arrived in New York Harbor. Capt. Ellis had the power of four tugs in support to bring the 900 foot ship to Manhattan’s Cruise Terminal at Pier 90 in the Hudson River.

The Z-drive tractor tugs Capt. Brian A. McAllister, Ava McAllister, Alex McAllister and Ellen McAllister provided over 21,000 HP combined and, with their state-of-the-art propulsion, offered exceptional control in guiding the hospital ship safely to her berth.

The USNS Comfort deployed from Norfolk, Va., to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The ship is equipped with 1,000 patient beds, 12 fully equipped operating rooms, eight intensive care unit beds, four radiology suites, up to 1,200 Navy medical and communications personnel and more than 70 civil service mariners. Her mission is to treat patients who do not have the virus, freeing up the land-based hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients in what is the epicenter of the virus in the United States.

McAllister’s Vice President of Operations Capt. Steven Kress said, “In these turbulent times, it is important for McAllister Towing to support our nation in every way possible. Whether it is a job like docking the USNS Comfort or bringing in containerships daily to secure our nation’s supply chain, we answered the call as we have done for more than 150 years. I’m so proud of our team, especially the crews on our vessels that have continued to work safely and tirelessly during this extraordinary period in our lives. To all the essential workers including medical personnel, USCG personnel, military, law enforcement, grocery store employees and transportation workers, thank you!”

McAllister Towing is one of the oldest towing and transportation companies in the United States and has been providing its service to customers since Captain James McAllister founded the company in 1864 in New York City. The company operates a modern fleet of more than 60 tugs in a dozen ports covering the U.S. East Coast from Portland, Maine, to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Voice of America released this video of the Comfort arriving in New York
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