USNS COMFORT, At sea (NNS) -- More than 300 additional personnel are scheduled to augment the current crew of nearly 800 military and civilians aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) in support of Operation Unified Response: Haiti.
Comfort is in transit to Haiti to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake which struck Jan. 12.
"These people just come in and form these organizations that are extremely productive and extremely effective at what they are doing in an amazingly short period of time," said Capt. John Larnard, executive officer of the medical treatment facility aboard Comfort.
The 350 additional personnel scheduled to embark include ship's servicemen to run the laundry and store aboard, food service attendants (FSAs), mental health professionals, pediatric specialists, nurses, and additional administrative support personnel, bringing the total crew aboard Comfort to approximately 1,200 people.
"When you increase the number of people aboard you have to increase the number of people who support them," said Comfort Supply Officer Cmdr. David Trettel.
According to Trettel, support provided by additional FSAs and ship's servicemen will streamline shipboard operations effectively allowing for the overnight turnaround of laundry, including medical scrubs and linens, as well as improved food service, both of which will lead to improved medical care for any patients the ship embarks.
"We have to have the flexibility with nursing, staffing, and support to be able to shift resources to where we need them," said Director of Medical Operations Capt. Andrew Johnson. "We have to have people who can cross train and do what we need, where we need it, when we need it."
Comfort has a full spectrum of hospital services to support disaster relief efforts. It has one of the largest trauma facilities in the U.S. and has four X-rays, one CAT scan unit, one MRI unit, a dental suite, a pharmacy and an optometry and lens laboratory. The 834-foot ship also carries two helicopters that can be used for pickup and delivery of patients and medical supplies.
For more news form USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) visit www.navy.mil/local/tah20.