The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Oct. 10 en route to South America and Central America where it will conduct an 11-week medical assistance mission working closely with host-nation health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras. The purpose of the deployment is to help relieve pressure on host nation medical systems partly due to an increase in migrants crossing their borders and provide care to the appropriate communities.
The ship’s crew will include more than 200 U.S. and partner nation military doctors, nurses, and technicians. In addition, about 60 medical and dental professional volunteers from non-governmental organizations will be on board to support the medical assistance mission. They will be joined by a smaller team of civil service mariners who will oversee the ship’s operation and navigation.
During the mission, USNS Comfort will visit Esmeraldas, Ecuador; Peru (port to be determined); Riohacha and Turbo in Colombia; and Puerto Castilla, Honduras. Specific dates for each port visit will be announced several days prior to the hospital ship’s arrival.
The USNS Comfort mission demonstrates U.S commitment to the Americas and is part of a continuum of support provided by U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). SOUTHCOM-sponsored civic assistance and humanitarian missions are conducted in close cooperation with partner nations in the region as well as with U.S. interagency partners at the U.S. Department of State and USAID. Similar missions include Continuing Promise, New Horizons, Beyond the Horizon, medical readiness training exercises and the Medical Civil Action Program.
About USNS Comfort
A U.S. Navy hospital ship has the capacity to provide afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facilities to the U.S. military, and is an optimal platform to provide hospital services in support of U.S. humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations worldwide.
Medical & Dental Services Provided
During each visit, Comfort’s medical team expects to treat approximately 750 patients per day at each medical site on shore, and anticipate conducting up to 20 surgeries per day aboard the vessel. Medical service will include:
- General surgery
- Ophthalmologic surgery
- Medical evaluation and treatment
- Preventive medicine
- Dental screenings and treatment
- Optometry screenings
- Eyewear distribution
- Public health
This mission marks the sixth time the hospital ship will provide medical assistance in the region. Since first deploying to the region on a similar mission more than a decade ago, the hospital ship has visited 18 nations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. During those missions, military medical professionals worked with host nation and civilian partners to provide medical treatment to nearly 390,000 people, including more than 6,000 surgeries.