There is a United States Naval Ship that is always welcome to ports with open arms. The Comfort. She is a non-commissioned hospital ship with a capacity for up to 1,000 bed patients, providing medical services during times of war, humanitarian aid, and disaster response.
A thank you poster from a family member of someone who received medical treatment on board the USNS Comfort that hung in the entryway in October, 2005.
Some FEMA employees may already be familiar with the ship, for she was there responding to medical needs in New York City after 9/11 in 2001, in Pascagoula, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and in Haiti following the earthquake in 2010.
What this baby can do
The interior of the ship's halls are lined with photos from the missions to countries where it has provided medical services. The images are heart-warming scenes that include providing comfort to children, dental services being rendered, and teams working together to bring patients aboard to receive treatment.
The ship has most features one would find at a traditional hospital including: a helipad, dental facilities, CT scanner, twelve operation rooms, pharmacy, optometry lens lab, blood bank, laundry, and morgue. There is also a post office on board. The ship has few limitations, one being open-heart surgery.
The ship has an impressive pulse:
- “Born:” the USNS Comfort went in to service in 1987, originally built as an oil tanker in 1975
- Length: 894 ft long, that's 12 18-wheeler trucks or two and a half football fields end to end
- Speed: 17.5 knots, 20.1 mph for the land dwellers
- Power: 24,500 hp, the power of approximately 175 cars
- Capacity: 63 civilians, 956 naval hospital staff, up to 1,000 bed patients, that's 2,019 people
- Response: the ship can deploy within five days, but has set sail as quickly as within 76 hours, as it did after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.