Sealift Command’s hospital ship Comfort on humanitarian voyage

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Military Sealift Command:


(NORFOLK, Va.) — Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort departed Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va., today for a four-month humanitarian and civic
assistance mission to Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the deployment, Comfort’s 64 civil service mariners – who operate the
ship – will navigate it to seven countries where shipboard medical
personnel, and veterinarians and Seabees will work with host nation partners
to provide medical and dental assistance, and veterinary services. On a
similar mission in 2007, Comfort’s medical team treated more than 98,000

“I am excited to be part of this mission,” said Capt. Thomas Finger, the
ship’s civil service master. “We are going to provide a lot of people with
medical care that they might not otherwise have access to – it’s not every
day that you get to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Comfort will visit Antigua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador,
Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama.

The focus of Comfort’s deployment is providing humanitarian assistance.
However, the work of MSC’s 64 civil service mariners will be pivotal to the
success of the mission.

In addition to operating and navigating the ship and providing the shipboard
hospital with electricity and fresh water, they will also run two 33-foot
utility boats to transport patients and mission personnel between ship and
shore in countries where the ship’s size keeps it from pulling pierside.

“During the 2007 mission, our crew worked tirelessly to transport patients
to and from the ship, keep the hospital lights on, and get this ship where
it needed to be,” said Chief Mate David Lieberman. “What kept us going – at
least those of on the boats – were the interactions with patients whose
lives were forever changed by what Comfort brought to them.”

Comfort’s civil service mariners will also join an embarked Naval
construction force of Seabees to provide engineering support at each
location and complete medical facility repairs and minor construction
projects. Together they completed projects at 20 schools and hospitals in

Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 non-combatant, merchant
mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized
missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and
move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition

By Professional Mariner Staff