The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) got underway from San Juan on Thursday to provide aid from the sea in Puerto Rico, the Navy said Friday.
The ship left San Juan after completing a planning phase with local and federal stakeholders in order to synchronize humanitarian efforts, the Navy said.
According to an update on Friday from the Dept. of Defense, the USNS Comfort will transit west from San Juan and make stops at five or six locations for a few days each, beginning with Aricibo-Manati and finishing in the vicinity of Ponce. HHS and Puerto Rico department of health representatives will prioritize patients for care aboard the ship prior to arrival, the update said.
“We have laid out a plan for Comfort to operate in the areas that have the most immediate direct need to relieve pressure on local and regional hospitals as directed by the Puerto Rican Department of Health and U.S. Health and Human Services,” said Capt. Kevin Robinson, mission commander onboard Comfort.
The USNS Comfort arrived in San Juan on October 3. While there, Comfort personnel treated a total of 66 patients, including 10 who were admitted for further care aboard the ship. Comfort staff also hosted a medical summit with local and federal officials, including Gov. Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico, and Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general of the United States.
“Additional mission assignments for the Comfort are expected to be scheduled based on assessments by the Department of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management and will deploy appropriately to help those needing medical services,” the Navy said.