U.S. hospital ship sails again to help Venezuelans

The USNS Comfort, a U.S. Navy hospital ship, deployed from Norfolk, Virginia, June 14 on a five-month mission to help Central American, South American and Caribbean countries.

Comfort medical teams will be working alongside host-nation medical professionals who are absorbing thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees,” said Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command.

Vice President Pence and his wife, Karen, were in Miami June 18 to see the Comfort set off en route to Ecuador, its first port of call. “For the next five months, the crew of the USNS Comfort will continue America’s effort to bring desperately needed medical care to those in need, especially the men and women and children who are suffering under the unprecedented crisis and oppression in Venezuela,” Pence said.

Three people walking beside large, docked ship (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Richard L.J. Gourley)
Vice President Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, join Admiral Craig Faller alongside the hospital ship USNS Comfort on June 18. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Richard L.J. Gourley)

On its seventh trip in the region, the USNS Comfort will make working stops in Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia, among others. The Comfort will provide services for about six days in each location.

Comfort medical teams offer both onboard and land-based dental and medical care, including general surgery and eye surgery. Comfort staff will make prescription eyeglasses and provide some veterinary services.

Doctors and other health care workers serving on the Comfort come from a number of countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States, and represent an array of charities and universities.

“Karen and I just walked through the ship,” Pence said, “and we marveled at its facilities and what it will bring to the region.”