Navy Hospital Ship Underway to Aid New York Rescue Effort
By Bridget Morris
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2001 The Navy has activated the hospital ship USNS Comfort to support New York City responders in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort leaves Baltimore harbor Sept. 12 enroute to New York.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Comfort, normally kept in reduced operating status in Baltimore, sailed with a crew of 61 civilian mariners and 730 Navy medical and support personnel. One of only two Navy hospital ships, Comfort weighed anchor today and is expected to arrive in Earle, N.J., tomorrow to load additional personnel and supplies. The ship is expected in New York City on Sept. 14.
Comfort is 894 feet long, equal in size to one of the nation's five largest trauma centers. Because Comfort is specifically designed to provide emergency care to U.S. combatant forces deployed in war or other operations, Navy officials consider it an ideal medical treatment facility for the situation.
The ship is equipped with up to 1,000 beds, 12 fully equipped operating rooms, a medical laboratory, optometry lab, radiological services, a CAT scanner, a pharmacy and two oxygen producing plants. In addition, it has 80 intensive care beds, 20 recovery beds, 400 intermediate care beds, 500 minimal care beds and a helicopter deck capable of landing large military helicopters, as well as side ports to take on patients at sea.
Comfort joined the Navy fleet in 1987 and is a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and Haitian migrant rescue operations in the Caribbean in 1994. It also has participated in multinational exercises to improve cooperation in peace support operations.
The ship is operated by the Navy's Military Sealift Command, DoD's ocean transportation provider. The command operates approximately 115 active ships around the world. For more information about USNS Comfort or the Military Sealift Command, visit the MSC Web site at www.msc.navy.mil.
(Bridget Morris is the editor of the Military Sealift Command SEALIFT.)