USS NASSAU, At Sea (NNS) -- A newborn baby girl delivered to USS Nassau (LHA 4) in a box from Haiti's University Hospital was reunited with her mother aboard the ship Jan. 31.
Nassau has been providing support to Operation Unified Response, the humanitarian aid and disaster relief mission to Haiti launched in the aftermath of the country's Jan. 12 earthquake.
The child was brought aboard Nassau Jan. 23 in the box with a note stating that she was two days old.
"When we got the call that day, we were told there would be two adults and two children, so I was looking for four stretchers," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class (AW/SW) Jorge Ramirez, a flight deck leading petty officer aboard Nassau who was working flight deck triage when the baby came aboard. "Only three stretchers came in, and on the third stretcher was a little boy and a box. I just thought the box had some personal items in it until I noticed that someone had written on its side; 'BABY IN BOX-DO NOT THROW AWAY.'"
The infant was treated by Nassau's medical personnel, who found the child was healthy. The crew of the ship cared for the baby for several days, unsure where her parents were. Later that week, a Haitian woman came aboard USNS Comfort (T AH 20) looking for her newborn baby girl, who fit the baby's description aboard Nassau.
"My main concern was whether or not this was the baby's mother, but to have a mom come from the same place who delivered on the same day with a diagnosis that matches the baby aboard means it's pretty likely that we found the mother," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Norwood, senior medical officer aboard Nassau.
After careful investigation, medical personnel aboard both ships verified that the woman was indeed the child's biological mother. The mother and child had a tearful reunion in the medical unit aboard Nassau.
This reunion was bittersweet for the crew who had all grown very attached to the little girl dubbed "baby Nassau."
"I know she has to leave, but I'm going to be sad to see her go," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Laketta Thomas, one of the corpsman responsible for taking care of the infant while she was in Nassau's care. "She's been just wonderful."
Nassau is deployed as part of the Nassau Amphibious Ready Group/24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (NAS ARG/24 MEU) as part of Operation Unified Response, the humanitarian aid and disaster relief mission in Haiti. The NAS ARG/24 MEU is comprised of embarked Marines from 24 MEU, USS Nassau, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19).
As the Navy component command of U.S. Southern Command, NAVSO's mission is to direct U.S. naval forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. In support of Operation Unified Response, C4F is tasked to coordinate the U.S. Navy's response to disaster relief in Haiti following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake Jan. 12. The focus of Operation Unified Response is to alleviate the suffering of survivors and support humanitarian relief efforts.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.