The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has departed on its first humanitarian aid mission since completing a regular overhaul and drydocking period earlier this year.
The USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Naval Station Norfolk on October 19th in support of the Continuing Promise mission. After a brief stop at Port of Miami over the weekend, the ship has now set sail to Latin America and the Caribbean where it will take part in the humanitarian assistance, readiness building and goodwill mission. The first stop will be Guatemala and Honduras before sailing onto the other countries of Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Haiti.
The deployment comes following a months-long overhaul and drydocking period at the Alabama Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, where it arrived on “Fat Tuesday”, which was March 1, 2022.
Throughout its two-month deployment, a crew of about 1,000 military and civilian personnel will work alongside a variety of governmental agencies to provide medical assistance to communities. The majority of these patients will be treated at the ship’s land-based medical sites, while select patients may be chosen for the hospital ship’s onboard surgical services.
“A lot of their populations have been put into poverty as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, and they’re trying desperately to recover from this,” said U.S. Army Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). “The USNS Comfort will definitely help increase the partnership, but it will help these nations that are struggling from the impact of all the challenges that they are facing.”
Since its inception in 2007, the Continuing Promise mission has treated more than 580,000 patients overall while the USNS Comfort alone has treated almost half a million patients and conducted over 7000 surgeries. The crew for this year’s mission will look to add to that total as the ship embarks on its eighth mission.
“In the midst of this sea of challenges, the Comfort sails as a symbol of the unshakeable bonds between the people of the United States and the people of Latin America and the Caribbean,” added Richardson. “The ship and its crew will extend an outstretched hand. They give hope. Wherever she goes, she carries with her our enduring promise, and all that it signifies.”
“I’m excited to work with such an enthusiastic and professional medical team,” said Capt. Kathryn Elliott, commanding officer of USNS Comfort. “This is the Comfort’s seventh deployment in support of Continuing Promise, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to work with our partner nations, exchange knowledge, and provide assistance to those in need, furthering the lasting legacy of the Continuing Promise mission.”
Comfort will also conduct a resupply mission stop at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the only Main Operating Base in the USSOUTHCOM AOR and the oldest overseas U.S. Naval Base.
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