NORFOLK, Va.-- A U.S. Navy hospital ship is preparing to deploy to Puerto Rico to bring medical care to the hurricane-ravaged island.
USNS Comfort, which is stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, will leave Hampton Roads for the five-day trip to the U.S. island territory.
Comfort spokesman Bill Mesta said that because the Comfort is coming out of a reduced operating status, the Navy is bringing medical treatment facilities on board.
The Comfort will depart with 522 medical personnel and support staff will join the ship as well as 70 service mariners. The ship will bring medical supplies, including blood, to Puerto Rico.
Mesta said once the Comfort arrives at the island, the crew will be ready to support whatever they encounter, and that they are eager to assist those in need.
The Comfort is the second of two Mercy-class hospital ships used by the Navy. A converted San Clemente-class supertanker, the Comfort joined the Navy's Military Sealift Command in December of 1987.
The ship's primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. Its secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.