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Comfort Departs Trinidad and Tobago

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070923-09
Release Date: 9/23/2007 9:50:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelly E. Barnes, USNS Comfort Public Affairs

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (NNS) -- Hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Port-of-Spain, Sept. 22, having been the longest ship to pull pierside there.

Normally, Port-of-Spain has a limitation for the length of ships allowed to pull pierside in the port due to a small turning basin where the ships enter and exit. Comfort exceeds the length set in the limitations, so special accommodations were arranged by the ship's master, Capt. Ed Nanartowich.

Comfort only took on 60 percent of its fuel capacity before arriving in Trinidad and Tobago and Nanartowich ordered the ballast tanks be emptied so the ship wouldn't run aground.

If Comfort hadn't been pulled pierside in Port-of-Spain, everyone arriving on and departing the ship would've had to be flown on, which would've depleted the ship's helicopter fuel supply.

"It was very important for us to pull pierside because it enabled us to finish the rest of the mission," Nanartowich said. "We'll have to use the helicopters in our next ports and now we'll have the fuel to be able to do that."

While in Trinidad and Tobago, the Comfort team provided medical care to patients in Port-of-Spain and surrounding areas for nearly a week at three different treatment sites.

The medical services offered by U.S. Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Army, Public Health Service, Canadian Forces and non-governmental organization Project Hope included adult and pediatric primary care, dental care, optometry and other services. The sites included Arima Health Facility, Eric Williams Medical Science Complex and Moulton Hall Methodist Elementary School, as well as operations conducted on the ship.

Nearly 100 surgeries were performed on the ship in cooperation from Trinidad and Tobago medical professionals. Two Trinidad and Tobago doctors assisted and observed during a range of surgeries, including hernia repairs, cataract surgeries, hysterectomies and a variety of others.

Project Handclasp, a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the U.S. Navy, donated more than $9,000 worth of medical supplies, which included three hospital beds, hospital furniture, children's and infants' clothing, teddy bears and handmade quilts.

Comfort's embarked Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202's Seabees also left their mark in Trinidad and Tobago, after repairing the roof and replacing ceiling tiles at South East Port-of-Spain Secondary School.

"Our Comfort team has made a positive difference in every country we've visited," said Capt. Bob Kapcio, Comfort's mission commander. "I'm proud of this crew and the hard work and long hours everyone invested to help improve the lives of our friends in Trinidad and Tobago and in all the countries we've visited."

With only two ports remaining on Comfort's humanitarian assistance mission, the crew has served more than 84,000 patients to date, with more than 8,700 patients served in Trinidad and Tobago.

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

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