Mission Critical

Murrin and Officers at COMFORT

“Anything’s possible when you don’t care who gets the credit…and that’s how you need to approach things.”

Having gotten off USNS COMFORT a few months ago, Captain David Murrin ’91 (above right) was in his hometown of Annapolis, Maryland awaiting orders as alternate for (USNS) MERCY and COMFORT, both of which he’s captained. Now, he’s now taking command of the USNS PATUXENT which will be involved in a refueling mission for the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group. The TRUMAN, having completed its most recent deployment, remains at sea off the East Coast as part of an effort to not only keep the crew healthy from the COVID-19 pandemic, but remain combat ready. On 21 April Murrin wrote, “We just shifted the PATUXENT from Naval Station Norfolk down to Craney Island Fuel Depot. We’ll load about 4M gallons of fuel today and get underway tomorrow to support the Carrier Strike Group.” He is, as the saying goes, back in the game.

One of seven brothers and sisters, Murrin was a US Marine before he was a Buccaneer. After Parris Island, a lack of billets saw many of them headed off to college courtesy of Uncle Sam. Growing up in Annapolis, the seagoing tradition was always in his mind. He found Mass Maritime on his family’s living room coffee table in a well-worn copy of Lovejoy’s College Guide where that page had been earmarked for him. Arriving on Taylor’s Point in the summer of ’87, he’s been a mariner ever since.

As a part of Operation Enduring Promise, in October 2018, COMFORT departed for an eleven-week operation in Latin America, with a primary mission being to assist countries that received refugees who fled the crisis in Venezuela. Providing care for nearly 8,000 patients with five stops in four countries including a trip through the Panama Canal where he met up with plenty of MMA educated Panamanians, including "my 4 CO sophomore year roommate Rogelio (Roger) Moreno (below left), a Canal Pilot who was with us aboard COMFORT for the northbound run!"

In November 2019, Murrin returned from Operation Continuing Promise, a similarly complex six month mission where some 70,000 patients from 12 countries were attended to. “Before we were out of Detyens (Charleston, SC) shipyard after Enduring Promise (EP) at the end of 2018, Secretary of Defense Mattis was already making moves indicating he wanted us to do another mission. This planning period was lining up to be even shorter than EP-18’s where we had about two months to plan. Advance teams have to visit each country, identify berths/moorings, develop throughput strategies, find medical sites, get credentialing, food supplies, and basically cover all the contingencies."

And while there was (obviously) more to those trips than meets the eye, there were other important factors involved. The US naval presence is a key component to global diplomacy, where the ships MERCY and COMFORT’S role is less a show of force than a show of strength. Whether abroad or right here at home in places like New York, its presence is a can, and “will do” message that US interests remain uncompromised, especially in the face of humanitarian crisis, and Dave Murrin has been at the helm for all of it.

The link to a recent Science Channel documentary on the USNS COMFORT and Murrin's role in those deployments can be found here.