USNS Comfort underway to provide aid from the sea in Puerto Rico

The U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) got underway on Oct. 5, to provide aid from the sea in Puerto Rico after completing a planning phase in San Juan.

“We have laid out a plan for Comfort to operate in the areas that have the most immediate direct need to relieve pressure on local and regional hospitals as directed by the Puerto Rican Department of Health and U.S. Health and Human Services,” said Capt. Kevin Robinson, mission commander onboard Comfort.

Additional mission assignments for the Comfort are expected to be scheduled based on assessments by the Department of Defense (DoD), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management and will deploy appropriately to help those needing medical services.

In addition to identifying the medical needs of Puerto Rico, Comfort personnel treated a total of 66 patients during its stay in San Juan, including 10 who were admitted for further care aboard the ship. The ship have enough material to attend to patients for thirty days and up to 200 patients daily.

Comfort is a seagoing medical treatment facility that currently has more than 800 personnel embarked for the Puerto Rico mission including Navy medical and support staff assembled from 22 commands, as well as over 70 civil service mariners.

USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) staff also hosted a medical summit with local and federal officials, including Gov. Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico and Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general of the United States, to coordinate efforts for the ship’s current mission of providing help and concentrating humanitarian assistance throughout the area.

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.

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