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Deputy Assistant SECDEF Tours Comfort

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070905-08
Release Date: 9/5/2007 12:53:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Jones, USNS Comfort Public Affairs

CARIBBEAN SEA (NNS) -- The U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense (SECDEF) for western hemisphere affairs toured hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) Sept. 4 during the ship’s humanitarian mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Stephen C. Johnson was accompanied by Adm. James G. Stavridis, commander, U.S. Southern Command. Both spoke with crew members about Comfort’s ongoing four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean.

During his visit, Johnson said Comfort’s mission plays a groundbreaking role in America’s partnership with its neighbors in the western hemisphere.

“This is the major good-news story for the U.S. in the western hemisphere right now,” said Johnson. “It is a very visible demonstration of the kind of humanitarian aid we can provide, and the services we can offer.”

During his tour, Johnson was shown the ship’s casualty and receiving area, operating rooms, a patient ward and dental facilities. After touring the ship and talking to crew members, Johnson said he was proud of the crew’s hard work and dedication, and was impressed with Comfort’s wide range of flexible capabilities.

“This is an amazing ship,” Johnson said. “Not only that, it is an amazing team of doctors, nurses, technicians and volunteers that have made all of this possible.”

While it was Johnson’s first visit to the ship, it was Stavridis’ second. He first visited the ship in July when it was in Colon, Panama.

Stavridis spoke to crew members and volunteers, noting differences between Comfort’s deployment and those of grey-hull Navy ships.

“In this part of the world, we’re not launching Tomahawk missiles,” he said. “We’re launching ideas and showing that we are reliable partners.”

Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical treatment to patients in a dozen countries. The deployment is in support of the U.S. Southern Command’s Partnership for the Americas initiative, strengthening ties between the U.S. and partner nations.

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