USNS Comfort deploys on humanitarian mission

Posted at 8:38 AM, Apr 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-01 11:51:11-04

Norfolk, Va. - The USNS Comfort left Hampton Roads on Wednesday morning on a five month humanitarian mission to Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The deployment is part of the Comfort's promise to provide medical dental services, in addition to civic and engineering projects.

Going with them on the deployment will be Operation Smile volunteer doctors, who will provide free lip and cleft palate surgery.

They will be working side by side with the Navy to provide surgery to 400 patients.

During Continuing Promise, an estimated 104,000 patients will be seen.

More than 400 subject matter expert exchanges will take place, covering medial, veterinary, engineering and environmental health topics; and more than 20 engineering and building site projects will be completed. Hundreds of surgeries will be performed by teams of specialized medical personnel from the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and various NGOs, officials said.

Just recently, the Comfort medical unit's commanding officer, Captain Rachel Haltner, was relieved of her duties. Officials say they lost confidence in her ability to command.

She has now been assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.