On Saturday, 24 July 2004, Skipper Kain got invited to tour
the hospital ship USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20) at Canton Pier 11, Baltimore, MD
Harbor by the Officer-in-Charge, CDR Benjamin G. M. Feril, MSC, USN.
COMFORT and her sister-ship MERCY are the only two active United States
Naval Hospital Ships. Also on the tour was Sea Scouter Noel Guzman from New York. The three
Sea Scouters met to plan the Seabadge XIV Course for this October in
Cape Cod where Noel will be the Skipper.
Here are some photos:
Before she became a hospital ship, COMFORT was a tanker named the ROSE
CITY. She was converted into a hospital ship later in her sea-going
This is the helicopter flight deck where COMFORT receives the majority of
her wounded patients.
Noel Guzman and Skipper on COMFORT's flight deck.
After the wounded arrive on the flight deck, they are placed on gurneys and
rolled down these ramps to the triage room.
This is the triage room where the wounded are prioritized for treatment.
There are eleven fully-equipped surgeries onboard COMFORT. When fully
staffed, COMFORT is larger than most big-city hospitals.
Our highly-trained staff is ready and eager to serve you.
Of course, for real surgery, they don't use dummies.
COMFORT even has a CAT Scanner. She also has an optical shop, dental
facilities, a burn unit, and just about anything else you can think of that
would be needed to care for the men and women of our armed forces.
COMFORT has also handled civilian casualties, and even Iraqi prisoners of
Lifeboats are available to evacuate the ship, but with injured patients, it
is hoped this would never be necessary. In conflict situations,
COMFORT stays well off-shore from the trouble area and is protected by other
As a non-combatant vessel, COMFORT is operated by the Military Sealift
Command, and wears gray, blue, and yellow stripes on her stack. Here
we are entering officer's country on our way to the bridge. At right
are the certificates of her senior merchant marine officers.
This is COMFORT's bridge. For all shiphandling matters, she is manned
by merchant mariners rather than naval officers, in keeping with her
non-combatant role. The senior merchant mariner is the Master of the
vessel. All medical matters are handled by United States Navy Medical
Corps and Medical Service Corps personnel.
The master's bridge chair. COMFORT has a single screw driven by a
steam turbine. Her top speed is not fast, but she is steady. We
were interested to learn that foreign powers who may be at odds with the
United States generally don't believe the United States government intends
to take serious action until and unless hospital ships arrive on the
scene. With the hospital ships in place, a foreign power knows the
United States is prepared to take casualties to defend freedom around the
The fire suppression control panel on the bridge.
This is only half of the mess decks dining area for the medical staff.
As guests of CDR Feril, the Officer-in-Charge, we were privileged to dine in
the merchant mariner officer's dining facility.
This is a knot board created as a gift to COMFORT from a retiring naval
member of her crew.
This is a thank-you letter to COMFORT from the Commandant of the United
States Marine Corps.
COMFORT has won two Navy Unit Commendations for her service to our armed
forces. COMFORT has deployed to Operation Desert Storm, the 9/11
Attack on New York City, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, to name just a few of