National Security

Hospital Ship USNS Comfort Heading to Puerto Rico

The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort / Getty

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort has left port in Norfolk, Va. and is heading to Puerto Rico to help with hurricane relief efforts on the island.

The U.S. Navy vessel and its medical teams will serve as an offshore hospital for people in need of care in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, which is working to recover in the wake of Hurricane Maria. USNS Comfort will be on scene for at least 30 days or until ordered to return home with its approximately 800 crew and medical staff.

Comfort can provide virtually any form of medical care necessary. It takes a few days to get the ship ready for sea once it is ordered into action. Once the ship arrives in Puerto Rico, patients will be ferried to it by sea or by helicopter.

The ship is not a commissioned naval vessel, but is owned by the Navy and run by mostly Navy medical personnel.

Comfort and her sister ship based out of San Diego, USNS Mercy, have been deployed to areas around the world that have been ravaged by war or natural disasters. It has been two years since Comfort was last deployed.