Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat, introduced legislation to require the Navy to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before making a decision.
Neither Mikulski nor Ruppersberger could be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
"The USNS Comfort has long been a source of pride and jobs for its home, the port of Baltimore, and the rest of the region," Ruppersberger said in 2010. "When a catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina or the recent earthquake in Haiti strikes, time is of the essence. The Comfort and its team of military medical professionals quickly answer the call to serve."
Comfort's future home, Norfolk's Pier 1, is undergoing maintenance that is not expected to be finished until January 2013, a U.S. Fleet Forces Command spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Mike Kafka, said. The work began in September.
Kafka did not know how many naval personnel would be transferred with the ship to Norfolk, or when civilian personnel in Baltimore would no longer be necessary.
Bentley said Baltimore could bid for a ship to replace the Comfort — "but it won't be as remunerative." The port is home to nine other Military Sealift Command and Maritime Administration ships.
"I'm crying," she said. "We'll keep alert for any bids coming out, and hopefully we'll get something."