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Comfort Departs to Aid Katrina Refugees

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050903-07
Release Date: 9/3/2005 6:33:00 PM


From USNS Comfort Public Affairs

USNS COMFORT, At Sea (NNS) -- Hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) set sail for the Hurricane Katrina-affected region of the Gulf of Mexico Sept. 2 in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s effort to provide medical support and humanitarian aid for victims of the recent natural disaster.

Comfort will join several other Navy ships currently deployed to the area. Comfort has unique capabilities for humanitarian relief missions including helicopter lift capability, advanced medical equipment, a wide range of medical skills, berthing and personnel support, as well as supplies to support medical operations ashore.

Comfort and its more than 500-person crew is initially slated to function at a 250-bed capacity. In addition to the 59 active-duty Sailors and 63 civil service mariners who make up the reduced operating staff (ROS) aboard the ship, the crew has been augmented with Sailors from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Naval Medical Clinic, Annapolis, Md., as well as several other Navy military treatment facilities.

Comfort loaded more than 245,000 lbs. of supplies in preparation for the departure. It will take the 894-foot ship about five days to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast region, with a stop in Mayport, Fla. Comfort will stop in Mayport to load an additional 57 tons of medical supplies, as well as 300 additional medical and support personnel.

During his remarks to the Comfort crew prior to departure, Vice Adm. David L. Brewer III, commander, Military Sealift Command, spoke about the upcoming mission’s importance to the nation. Unsure of what the crew would see upon arrival to the Gulf region, Brewer urged the Comfort crew to do what’s right and to take care of the refugees and themselves.

“You folks are getting ready to embark on one of the most critical missions in this country,” he said. “You will remember this for the rest of your lives.”

National Naval Medical Center Commanding Officer Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr., echoed Brewer's sentiments and thanked the crew for everything they are doing and are about to do.

“Humanitarian assistance is something we will do more and more of,” Robinson said. “This is part of what we do as a part of military medicine. You have given much of yourself and to national service.”

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