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Hospital Ship Leaves New Orleans

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051009-06
Release Date: 10/9/2005 11:28:00 AM

From Military Sealift Command

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed New Orleans Oct. 8 to return to her homport in Baltimore after providing several weeks of disaster relief to the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

Comfort has been acting as an emergency trauma center for the city since Sept. 28. During the ship's 10 days in New Orleans, Comfort's medical staff has worked alongside local civilian physicians to treat trauma patients aboard ship in a partnership between the Navy and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

Comfort was activated in support of FEMA's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts Aug. 31 and sailed from her Baltimore homeport Sept. 2. After stopping in Mayport, Fla., to load additional supplies and personnel, Comfort and her crew of more than 600 Sailors, civil service mariners and Project HOPE volunteers, arrived in Pascagoula, Miss., Sept. 9.

In 10 days, Comfort's medical staff treated 1,452 patients aboard ship and 376 patients ashore at the Comfort Clinic, a temporary medical facility set up at the city's Singing River Mall. Sept. 20, the ship left Pascagoula in order to evade Hurricane Rita. The ship received orders to sail for New Orleans Sept. 27.

Comfort is one of two hospital ships in the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command and is normally kept pierside in reduced operating status with a cadre crew 58 Sailors and 18 civil service mariners aboard. Navy medical personnel staff the ship's hospital while mariners employed by Military Sealift Command operate and maintain the ship's navigation and engineering systems. When called into action, the ship can be ready to sail in five days. For this mission, the ship was ready to sail in three days.

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