The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has embarked on its first aid mission since finishing the regular maintenance and drydocking phase in the spring of this year.
The USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Naval Station Norfolk on the 19th of October in aid of the Continuing Promise mission. Following a brief stop at Port of Miami over the weekend, the vessel is now heading to Latin America and the Caribbean to take part in the aid to the needy as well as the building of readiness and goodwill mission. The first destination will be Guatemala and Honduras before heading to the other countries of the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Haiti.
The move comes after months of drydocking and overhaul time within the Alabama Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, where it was delivered at “Fat Tuesday,” that was the 1st of March, 2022.
During its two-month mission, an estimated 1,000 civilians and military personnel will be working with various government agencies to provide medical aid to communities. A majority of patients will be treated on the ship’s medical sites on land, and a select group of patients will be selected for the hospital ship’s 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 beginning at the end of 2007, The Continuing Promise mission has treated more than 580,000 patients and The USNS Comfort in its own way has seen more than fifty thousand patients and performed more than 7000 operations. The crew of this year’s mission is expected to add to the total when the ship begins the eighth of its missions.
“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 make a resupply mission at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the sole Main Operating Base in the USSOUTHCOM AOR, and the most prestigious overseas U.S. Naval Base.