For the sixth time in its history, U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) recently left its homeport of Norfolk, Va., en route for South America and Central America to conduct an 11-week medical assistance mission.
At its first stop, in Ecuador, the ship’s embarked medical personnel treated more than 4,000 patients over the course of five days, both onboard and at two medical treatment locations set up nearby. Continuing its mission, the ship and its crew will work closely with host-nation health and government partners in Peru, Colombia, and Honduras, reflecting the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas.
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) has a long and impressive history in service to the Navy, but it’s actually the third ship in Naval History to be named for the general word classification associated with hospital ships. Comfort I (AH-3) was commissioned March 18, 1918, and worked mainly in the Atlantic helping return wounded men home from Europe during World War I. The second Comfort (AH-6) was commissioned on May 5, 1944, and operated throughout World War II with a Navy crew and Army medical personnel.
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) was placed in service with the Military Sealift Command on Dec. 1, 1987. Getting its first service during a time of war in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the ship’s medical teams saw more than 8,000 outpatients, admitted 700 inpatients, and performed 337 complex surgical procedures that often proved impossible to perform in the limited combat hospitals ashore.
From the early 1990s in the Arabian Gulf through the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York; from Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in 2005 through the earthquake relief efforts in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2010–the ship and its crew have continued to provide afloat medical facilities when called upon by the U.S. military, and hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.
Take a look below to see USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) through the years!