Hospital Ship USNS Comfort Arrives in Turbo, Colombia

Turbo is the first of two scheduled stops in the South American country.
U.S. Embassy, Bogotá, edited by Diálogo | 20 November 2018

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U.S. Navy Captain Kevin Buckley, commanding officer of the USNS Comfort’s Medical Treatment Facility, dances with a member of a performance troupe following the opening ceremony at a land-based medical site in Turbo, Colombia, on the ship’s first stop in the South American country. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman J. Keith Wilson)

U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived in Colombia on November 14th, on the second half of its trip to Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Honduras, as part of humanitarian mission Enduring Promise 2018. Authorities held an opening ceremony for the Comfort’s mission in Colombia as it started its medical assistance aid in Turbo, Antioquia department, November 16th.

Along with volunteers from Argentina, Canada, Colombia, the United States, and other nations, the Comfort’s personnel assisted hundreds of patients and conducted surgeries aboard the ship. By day two, November 17th, the USNS Comfort had cared for 1,013 patients and conducted 16 surgeries.

General practitioners, specialists, and dentists begin in the early morning to admit patients arriving from different villages and municipalities from the Urabá region, in Antioquia department. For Carmen Mosquera, 83, the medical care meant seeing the future with more optimism. “Now I can see well; you know how unsafe it can be for those who cannot see well,” Mosquera said, showing her three new pairs of glasses.

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Matt Stepanovich, from Portsmouth, Virginia, examines a patient’s foot at a land-based medical site in Turbo, Colombia, the first of two stops in the South American country. The deployment reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Pat Morrissey)

During the opening ceremony at the Marine Riverine Battalion in Turbo, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Bill Whitaker, along with other U.S. government representatives, thanked Colombian entities and institutions involved in the humanitarian mission and stated that thanks to the joint effort and advance coordination, hundreds of citizens will improve their health conditions and have access to surgeries and high-quality medical attention. “We seek to be by Colombia’s side in this crucial moment in the country’s history,” Whitaker said. “You can count on us. We will be by your side now and in the future, just like in the past. Together we can.”

In addition to Ambassador Whitaker, Assistant Secretary Kimberly Breier, from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; U.S. Navy Captain William K. Shafley, and Colombian Minister of Defense Guillermo Botero Nieto took part in the event. “The Comfort is a multinational effort of the Americas for the Americas,” Breier said. “The United States’ commitment to Colombia goes beyond any particular policy or objective. The mission we start today is part of this commitment.”

The goal of humanitarian mission Enduring Promise is to provide treatment and medical assistance to vulnerable populations in Turbo (November 16th-20th) and Riohacha (November 26th-30th). Colombia is the only country with two scheduled stops for the Comfort, reflecting the close, continuing cooperation between the two governments.

It’s the fifth time the Comfort goes to Colombia as part of U.S. Southern Command’s wider regional effort. The ship will head to Honduras upon completing the mission in Colombia.

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