USNS COMFORT, At Anchor (NNS) -- USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) offloaded $2.5 million in relief supplies Feb. 25 for distribution throughout Haiti in support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help the local government with earthquake recovery efforts.
Task Group 41.8, which is leading Comfort's humanitarian endeavors, coordinated the offload of the 120 pallets, consisting of general pharmaceuticals, health kits, dressings for wounds, and other medical supplies. These treatment items will initially cataloged at a storage facility and then sent on to help land-based medical treatment centers sustain follow-on care for Haitians injured in last month's natural disaster.
"We are working hard to make sure that the material is getting to the right places ashore, so the material will be best used and distributed where its needed most," said Cmdr. Alan Reyes, logistics officer with Task Group 41.8. "In working with the joint task force leadership, we have located a warehouse that is approved by USAID called the PROMESS warehouse that is sponsored by the government of Haiti."
After the supplies reach the storage area, they will be sorted and redistributed to those in need - many of whom were patients treated aboard Comfort.
"The warehouse is near the airport and is centrally located so medical facilities within the Port-au-Prince area, where most of the damage has occurred, can easily receive supplies," Reyes said.
The majority of the supplies were donated by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Project Hope, committed to helping the people of Haiti, and Comfort's medical staff wanted to ensure that those supplies were going where they were most needed.
"Our medical staff has made site visits to ensure that patient care is being provided at those sites and that they are provided the material that they need as well," Reyes said. "We have also been able, on a limited basis, to be able to provide some of these supplies to medical facilities that are on the outer reaches of the island."
In addition to NGOs, Comfort is working closely with other services in Operation Unified Response, creating a flexible team that can best support USAID's coordinated relief activities with the Haitian government.
"The supply department is moving cargo on to a landing craft alongside Comfort, and they will be taken ashore where the Army will take over and put pallets onto flat bed trucks and transport them to the Promess warehouse, where the NGOs managing that warehouse can store and inventory the material," Reyes said.
The management of the movement of supplies, added Reyes, is like working a symphony to ensure all the pieces play the right part.
"It's a great example of the coordinated efforts of all the different military units here in Haiti," Reyes said. "It is not just our ship's crew on board Comfort. We also have assistance from Military Sealift Command transportation, units from the U.S. Army. We are working in close affiliation with USAID and the World Wide Health Organization to make sure that everything is being coordinated."
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/.