On Wednesday I had a meeting for work on the Naval Base in Norfolk, VA. At the end of our meeting we had the opportunity to tour the USNS Comfort, one of the U.S. Navy’s hospital ships. It has been used to provide relief after disasters such as Haiti, and also provides on-site emergency care for U.S. combatants in a time of war. It has been deployed during Operation Desert Storm, as well as to New York during the terrorist attacks in 2001. It has also served as an afloat trauma center in the Persian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Comfort has also been used for missions, including three Continuing Promise missions in 2007, 2009, and 2011. Continuing Promise is a humanitarian civic assistance mission that has mainly served the Central America region. This involves providing medical and dental care, both on and off the Comfort, including surgeries that take place on board the ship. It also provides civil assistance (including public health training, veterinary services, and engineering education) to the host nations visited during the mission.
This is the helicopter control tower. The Comfort has a flight deck that can handle the world’s largest military helicopters.
The Continuing Promise missions demonstrate the Navy’s ability to be a global force for good, while building relationships with host nations and the non-governmental organizations that assist with the mission. The ship itself is operated by Merchant Marines. The medical folks on board are made up of Naval medical personnel who work side-by-side with civilians from non-governmental organizations (Johns Hopkins, Project Hope, Samaritan’s Feet, World Vets, Operation Smile, etc.).
Most of the parts of the ship we toured resembled a traditional hospital. However, there were other parts that very much reminded you that you were on board a ship. For example, this is the CT machine that they use to evaluate patients.
Looks pretty much like a normal hospital, right? It mostly did, except for the straps here and there to hold equipment down and in place while the ship is moving. The surgical area also looked very much like a hospital.
|USNS Comfort transits the Panama Canal during CP 2011.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric C. Tretter/RELEASED)
|CP 2011 in Guatemala
Photo from the Continuing Promise Facebook page