The U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC) Mercy-class hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) returned to Naval Station Norfolk after completing medical mission in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, on Nov. 20.
Comfort was part of the whole-of-government response effort and has been assisting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by the hurricane.
Comfort arrived at the port of San Juan in Puerto Rico on Oct. 3 after departing Naval Station Norfolk on Sept. 29 with over 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff with the medical treatment facility (MTF), and over 70 civil service mariners. On the arrival, the ship had enough material to attend to patients for thirty days and up to 200 patients daily.
Comfort worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to treat patients since the first day it arrived in Puerto Rico.
The medical personnel onboard the ship has provided a full spectrum of medical care to the patients including general practice, family medicine, nephrology and pediatrics. Sailors aboard Comfort have treated 1,899 patients, performed 191 surgeries, provided 76-thousand liters of oxygen and ten tons of food and water.
The ship conducted 191 total surgeries to include 44 general surgical procedures such as hernia repair, gallbladder removal and appendix removal; 25 major orthopedic surgical cases; 17 amputations and 15 urologic procedures.
Comfort’s MTF is an embarked crew of medical personnel from the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery responsible for operating and maintaining one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States.
The civil service mariners operate and navigate the ship, load and off-load mission cargo, assist with repairs to mission equipment and provide essential services to keep the MTF up and running.
USNS Comfort (T-AH-20):
USNS Comfort is the second of two Mercy-class hospital ships of the U.S. Navy. A converted San Clemente-class supertanker, Comfort was delivered to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) on Dec. 1, 1987.
USNS Comfort’s primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. Comfort’s secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.
The hospital ship has one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States and a full spectrum of surgical and medical services including four X-rays, one CAT scan unit, a dental suite, an optometry and lens laboratory, a physical therapy center, a pharmacy, an invasive angiography suite and two oxygen-producing plants. Comfort also maintains up to 5,000 units of blood.
When not deployed, USNS Comfort is kept in a reduced operating status but can transition to full operating status in five days.
The Comfort has previously been sent as relief for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, providing treatment to 1,500 people.