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Homeland Security

JTF Katrina Commander Visits Comfort

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051004-07
Release Date: 10/4/2005 11:08:00 AM

From USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- Joint Task Force Katrina Commander Lt. Gen. Russel Honore visited hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) Oct. 3 for a commander’s assessment meeting with area JTF commanders.

Current and future mission requirements were discussed in the areas of medical care, search and rescue operations, engineering and inoperability, among others.

“Providing medical services inside American soil is our job,” Honore said to the joint task force leaders. “Americans will always remember the care we’ve provided [in this humanitarian relief effort]. I want us (Joint Task Force) to provide care for folk until we beg for mercy.”

Comfort, currently moored pierside in New Orleans, is positioned to assist in the relief effort in the aftermath of both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. The hospital ship has more than 700 medical and support personnel aboard to assist in the Federal Emergency Management Agency-led initiative to provide disaster relief to the Gulf Coast region.

While discussing Comfort’s current role and pending role in the re-population of the Crescent City, Honore said he fully expects the ship to continue providing necessary medical services. However, the general expressed concern over Comfort’s accessibility to the public and even hinted of a possible change in the ship’s location from the nearly desolate lower section of New Orleans’ 9th Ward to a more populated area of the city.

“We need to go down to where we have people [to care for them],” he said. “The ship is doing a great job...this is a good, clean hospital.”

Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, Adjutant General for Louisiana and Director of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, thanked the entire JTF on behalf of Louisiana and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“You’ve provided tremendous resources and effort. The attitude of all parties involved has been great,” said Landreneau. “You all came here with the right attitude, asking ‘what can I do to help?’”

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.

The Military Sealift Command ship is currently functioning at a 250-bed capacity.

In addition to the 59 Sailors and 63 civil service mariners who make up the Reduced Operating Status (ROS) crew aboard the ship, the crew has been augmented with Sailors from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., the Naval Medical Clinic in Annapolis, Md., and several other Navy Military Treatment Facilities.


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