Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
August 16, 2019
USNS Comfort Concludes Medical Mission in Panama
By U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. Fourth Fleet
COLÓN, Panama – The hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) held a closing ceremony pier side symbolizing the completion of the ship’s fourth medical mission in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, Aug. 12.
U.S. and Panamanian government officials spoke of the commitment between the partner nations and the symbol of goodwill that Comfort brought to Panamanian citizens and Venezuelan migrants.
“The deployment of Comfort reflects our commitment and friendship with Panama,” said Ryan Rowland, acting deputy chief of mission. “Every mission we accomplish together reinforces our alliance that is based on the values we share.”
During the Comfort’s six-day mission in Colón, medical professionals from the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy, alongside six partner nations and non-governmental organizations, provided care for more than 6,600 patients at two separate shore-based medical sites and performed 148 surgeries aboard the ship.
Additionally, U.S. Army veterinarian technicians and U.S. Navy medical staff collaborated with a local Panamanian non-profit organization to spay and neuter over 260 dogs and cats.
“On behalf of the president, Laurentino Cortizo, we want to give thanks to the government of the United States, because since 2007, we have highly benefited from the presence of the hospital ship Comfort,” said Rosario Turner, Panamanian minister of health. “This team effort has allowed us to reduce the waiting list of health services for the people of Colón, and the result of this mission has been so successful that is has surpassed the expectations that were initially set.”
The Comfort’s mission is accomplished through the efforts of medical and non-medical personnel. The Comfort team is comprised of military and civilian personnel from the U.S. and partner nations, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru, along with several U.S. and international non-governmental organizations, creating a dynamic team capable of delivering a variety of services.
This marks the Comfort’s seventh deployment to the region since 2007. At each of the upcoming missions, the embarked medical teams will provide care aboard Comfort and at two land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems caused partly by an increase in Venezuelan migrants.
This deployment is part of the U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative and reflects the United States’ ongoing commitment to friendship, partnership, and solidarity with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.