USNS Comfort Holds Change of Command Ceremony

Story Number: NNS100709-11Release Date: 7/9/2010 2:36:00 PM
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By Valerie A. Kremer, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

BALTIMORE, Md. (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort's (T-AH 20) Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) held a change of command ceremony at the ship's Baltimore layberth July 8.

Capt. David K. Weiss assumed command of Comfort's shipboard hospital from Capt. James J. Ware in a ceremony held on the ship's weatherdeck.

Navy medical personnel operate Comfort's MTF while civil service mariners working for the Navy's Military Sealift Command operate and navigate the ship.

"It was an honor and privilege to be the commanding officer of Comfort's MTF for," said Ware.

During Ware's tenure from 2008-2010, Comfort deployed twice in support of the Navy's Maritime Strategy.

"It was an honor and privilege to be the commanding officer for two years on the Comfort," said Ware.

During 2009, Comfort deployed as a part of Operation Continuing Promise 2009, a four-month humanitarian and civic assistance deployment to Antigua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama. The mission saw more than 100,000 patients incorporating 12 host nations, as well as interagency and non-governmental organization (NGO) members.

Comfort deployed again Jan. 16 in a short-fused response to a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. Comfort deployed in less than 77 hours and was able to begin performing operations Jan 19. Medical personnel aboard Comfort treated 871 patients and performed 843 surgeries during their humanitarian and disaster relief mission in Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response.

"The Comfort's crew, international humanitarian members, NGOs and others have done an outstanding job over the last few years during these missions. I am very proud of that partnership and especially the teamwork that developed in very short notice with these teams," said Ware.

Ware stated during his formal remarks that he could not have been prouder of the contributions and hard work of his crew.

"The men and women of Navy medicine demonstrated that they are truly a force for good," said Ware.

While the change of command was a celebration of recent achievements of the hospital ship under Ware's leadership, the celebration also hosted an honorable member of the Navy's rich heritage.

Former Army Nurse Corps 1st Lt. Doris (Gardner) Howard served aboard the USS Comfort (AH-6) in 1945 when a kamikaze plane crashed through the Comfort amidships.

"What an honor it is to return to the Comfort. I want to run and see my stateroom, but I keep reminding myself this is a different Comfort than the one I was on, new and modern," said Howard. "She has given aid in Haiti recently, and I have always kept track of the many humanitarian trips she has made throughout the world."

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The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrives at Naval Station Norfolk.
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
March 14, 2010
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