NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) deployed from Naval Station Norfolk on Wednesday morning.
The hospital ship will conduct a medical assistance mission in Central and South Americas. Over the next 11 weeks, it will stop in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Honduras as part of "Operation Enduring Promise."
"Those of us who have never taken part in a Comfort mission, are extremely excited to be here," said Task Force Commander Rear Admiral Sean Buck.
Its presence will help relieve pressure on the host nations' medical systems.
The crew includes about 900 military doctors, nurses, and technicians.
"We'll take care of any patient that comes to our door," said Command Officer Capt. Kevin Buckley.
The Comfort is the second of two Mercy-class hospital ships used by the Navy. A converted San Clemente-class supertanker, the Comfort joined the Navy's Military Sealift Command in December of 1987.
The ship'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. Its secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.
The nearly 900-foot long ships can accommodate 1,000 patients including 80 in intensive care. Helicopters can rapidly deliver casualties.
The Comfort was among the ships deployed by the Navy last year to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria battered the Caribbean island.
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