Second Baby Born Aboard Navy Hospital Ship Comfort in Puerto Rico

Official U.S. Navy file photo of USNS Comfort (T-AH 20)
Official U.S. Navy file photo of USNS Comfort (T-AH 20)

It's a boy.

As Navy ships deployed to provide hurricane aid to the Caribbean slowly return to their homeports, the work of its deployed hospital ship is not yet done.

On Nov. 3, the USNS Comfort welcomed Isaias Valerio-Fonseca, the second baby born aboard the ship since it arrived in Puerto Rico. Isaias was born three weeks after the Oct. 14 birth of Sara Victoria Llull Rodriguez, the first baby born aboard the ship in seven years.

Isaias' father, Louis Borja, is a Navy veteran who had come aboard the Comfort a day before with his wife, Yaritza Valerio, and the couple's 18-month-old son, according to a Navy release. The couple is from Humacao, Puerto Rico.

"We knew that the Comfort was here," Borja said in a statement. "As a former sailor, I know the quality of the naval hospitals. So I didn't want to take any chances; we just came here. So we drove all the way from Humacao to San Juan."

Borja expressed pride that his youngest son, like him, now has close ties to the Navy. Isaias' birth at 1:38 p.m. Friday was announced over the ship's public address system.

"He will know about this. Someday, he will know about this. Of course, he will know I was a sailor, and I will tell him he was born on a Navy vessel," he said. "He was never in the Navy, and he got more honors than I did."

The Comfort, one of two hospital ships belonging to the Navy, arrived in Puerto Rico on Oct. 4 to provide medical care to those affected by Hurricane Maria.

After early reports that few were able to access the care the floating hospital provided, the ship docked in San Juan on Oct. 27, and the staff aboard treated more than 270 patients in just two days.

The Comfort is one of the few Navy assets remaining in the Caribbean following Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

The amphibious assault ship Kearsarge returned to its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, on Monday after more than two months of hurricane relief efforts. The dock landing ship Oak Hill, which deployed at the same time as the Kearsarge, pulled back into port at Norfolk on Oct. 29.

According to Navy officials, the Comfort is still moored in San Juan and assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency as one component of the government's ongoing Maria relief effort.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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