USNS COMFORT, At Anchor (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Sailors aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) March 1 to thank them for their continued efforts in supporting Operation Unified Response by providing critical medical care to the people of Haiti.
While aboard, Mabus expressed his appreciation for the immediate response of the hospital ship to mobilize numerous Sailors, civil service mariners and nongovernmental organization volunteers.
"The main reason I came down here, aside from seeing Haiti, was to see what has happened here and what you have done," said Mabus. "I want to simply say thank you for the skills you have, the dedication you have, and the hours you put in. Thank you for everything you have done on behalf of the United States for the people of Haiti."
Six weeks ago, the Comfort crew traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in record time and began treating earthquake victims, bringing necessary care that often made the difference between life and death.
Mabus spoke with several Sailors about their experiences and lessons learned before addressing the crew to highlight the international impact of the hospital ship's medical relief efforts.
"To have Comfort anchored off the coast of Haiti shows a completely different face of America," Mabus said. "It shows what we can do, and that we are here to help."
Mabus also toured several areas on board the ship, getting a first-hand look of the operating room and casualty receiving area where more than 900 patients were initially seen and admitted for treatment.
Having him aboard the ship provided an instant boost of morale.
"The Secretary of the Navy's visit was a morale booster for me," said Personnelman Seaman Apprentice Brittany King. "Even though I am not in the medical field, I felt good after his remarks because he acknowledged the contributions of every Sailor on this ship."
Comfort Sailors, in cooperation with 244 nongovernmental organization health care volunteers, provided medical care for severely injured earthquake victims suffering from crushed limbs and compartmentalized injuries. Sailors were proud to host share their experiences with the Secretary of the Navy.
"It was nice to have him aboard our ship eating food with our Sailors and speaking with them," said Legalman 1st Class (AW/SW) Raysa Turner. "Junior Sailors really look forward to visits like this."
In addition to treating patients in support of relief efforts in Haiti, Comfort crewmembers offloaded more than 100 pallets of medical supplies and equipment for use by nongovernmental agency-run hospital facilities ashore, in addition to working closely with those hospitals by providing consultations where needed.
More than 11,000 service members are currently in Haiti supporting the international relief effort led by USAID in conjunction with the government of Haiti. To date military forces attached to the Joint Task Force in Haiti have provided just over 2.6 million bottles of water, 2.2 million meals, and 149,000 pounds of medical supplies.
For more news from Operation Unified Response visit www.navy.mil/haiti.
For more news from USNS Comfort, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/tah20/.