The U.S. Navy’s Mercy-class hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) will be deployed to Central America and South America in late September to begin a two-month humanitarian mission with stops in Colombia and the region.
During the deployment, military medical personnel will work alongside our partners to provide needed medical assistance, according to the needs defined by each stop.
The USNS Comfort support in Colombia was requested by the Colombian government to relieve the pressure of increased population flows from Venezuela on their national health system.
“This mission is a symbol of what can be accomplished when partners work together to aid people in need,” said Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command, which will oversee the deployment. “Because this mission is humanitarian in nature, it will focus on the people we’re assisting, on the nations we’re partnering with, and on the region we’re supporting together.”
This marks the sixth hospital ship deployment to the region since 2007 and reflects the United States’ steadfast commitment of friendship and solidarity with the Americas.
USNS Comfort (T-AH-20)
USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) is the third United States Navy ship to bear the name Comfort, and the second Mercy-class hospital ship to join the U.S. Navy’s fleet.
The USNS prefix identifies the Comfort as a non-commissioned ship owned by the U.S. Navy and operationally crewed by civilians from the Military Sealift Command (MSC). A uniformed naval hospital staff and naval support staff is embarked when Comfort is deployed, said staffs consisting primarily of naval officers from the Navy’s Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Service Corps, Nurse Corps and Chaplain Corps, and naval enlisted personnel from the Hospital Corpsman rating and various administrative and technical support ratings (e.g., Yeoman, Personnel Specialist, Information Systems Technician, Religious Program Specialist, etc.).
In keeping with her status as a non-combatant vessel, naval personnel from the “combat” specialties are not assigned as regular crew or staff. Underway embarks by Navy Unrestricted Line officers (e.g., warfare qualified combat specialties), enlisted Naval Aviation, Surface Warfare, Submarine Warfare, Special Operations or Special Warfare/SEAL personnel, or any Marine Corps officers or enlisted personnel, are typically limited to official visits, helicopter or tilt-rotor flight operations or as patients.
In accordance with the Geneva Conventions, USNS Comfort and her crew do not carry any offensive weapons. Firing upon Comfort would be considered a war crime as the ship only carries weapons for self-defense.