PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- The hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrived off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 20 receiving the first wave of sick and injured patients in conjunction with Operation Unified Response.
Comfort left its homeport of Baltimore Jan. 16 in response to a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti's capital Jan 12.
Following a record, three-day voyage, Comfort's crew began providing aid critical to the healing process of the Caribbean nation.
"We started the process of receiving patients early in the morning and we are progressing now," said Capt. James Ware, commanding officer of the medical treatment facility on board Comfort. "By midday we reached close to 30 patients aboard. The team is doing outstanding and very professional work."
Comfort is 894 feet long and houses one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States, including 1,000 beds and a full spectrum of surgical and medical services, in addition to an array of capabilities selected specifically for this Operation.
"We arranged a Rapid Assessment Team (RAT) solely dedicated to operating ashore to determine exactly what injuries we will encounter out there," said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel D'Aurora, casualty receiving (CASREC) division officer aboard Comfort.
D'Aurora indicated that Comfort's RAT assesses the needs and sheer amount of people in need of medical attention. Once that is determined, the entire ship has the flexibility to meet those needs.
"We're working with the air detachment and boat operators to get (RAT personnel) back and forth to the ship safely, and we may not see our inflow patient numbers in CASREC decrease for the next few days," D'Aurora said. "However, we will be ready."
More than 30 nations and hundreds of nongovernmental organizations are on the ground working together to provide humanitarian assistance, demonstrating the unity of care on behalf of the international community.
In just two days on station, Comfort has already treated more than 90 patients, 20 of whom are pediatric cases. Additionally, the professional medical staff aboard has conducted 30 surgeries, most of which focused on treating orthopedic injuries suffered in the earthquake.
Comfort is planning to receive a continuous influx of patients each day with the expectation of having 800 patients aboard by Sunday.
In addition to Comfort, U.S. response assets participating in Operation Unified Hope: Haiti include USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70); USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Underwood (FFG 36), USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51), USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198), and the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group consisting of embarked Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), and USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44).
For more news from USNS Comfort, visit www.navy.mil/local/tah20.