July 8 (UPI) — The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, completed its six-day mission in Manta, Ecuador, to assist with medical care because of an influx of migrants from Venezuela.
During a symbolic closing ceremony Wednesday, Comfort leadership, as well as local and U.S. guests, described the “commitment between the partnering nations and the symbol of goodwill that Comfort brought to the citizens of Manta,” according to a Navy news release Friday.
The Comfort arrived at the second port visit of its current deployment, Callao, Peru, on Monday, prepared to continue assisting with the urgent health care needs of Venezuelans who have fled from the humanitarian crisis in their home country.
The stop is the fourth time the Comfort has been to Peru.
In Manta, the 320 medical professionals of the Navy and seven partner nations cared for 7,799 patients, including medical care for 2,553 adults and 1,482 children, 2,640 optometry patients and 1,1,24 dental patients, according to a Navy infographic posted on Twitter. More than 120 surgeries were performed aboard the ship.
“What we have accomplished over the past week will far outlast the ship’s visit to the region,” Capt. Brian Diebold, commander of Task Force 49, said in the news release. “The medical staff has shared with me countless moving stories — from children getting their first pair of glasses to grandparents being able to see for the first time in years after a cataract surgery. It is truly remarkable what we are capable of when we work together.”
The partner nations’ military and civilian personnel were from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru.
In June, the Comfort left from Naval Station Norfolk on June 14, to begin a five-month deployment to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean to “provide medical assistance in support of regional partners and in response to the regional impacts of the Venezuela political and economic crisis.”
The mission is the hospital ship’s seventh hospital ship deployment to South and Central America since 2007, and is expected to include stops Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis.
The current Comfort ship entered service in 1987 and has a Naval medical staff of 956, according to the Navy. The Navy’s other hospital ship is the Mercy.