The hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived in Ecuador Wednesday to begin providing medical care to refugees fleeing a political and economic crisis in Venezuela.
The Norfolk-based ship is on a five-month humanitarian mission to Latin America called Operation Enduring Promise. Ecuador, which is on the west coast of South America, is the first stop on the mission.
The medical team on the ship is primarily from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and at least one hospital corpsman has close ties to the nation.
Hospitalman Elias Andrade said in a Navy video his father was born in Ecuador.
"To serve Ecuador and the United States at the same, it's an honor to really go around and help out my country," Andrade said. "It means everything to me."
The medical team will provide care on board Comfort and at two land-based medical sites in an effort to relieve pressure on national medical systems strained partly by an increase in Venezuelan migrants, the Navy said in a statement
"Comfort's team is ready to work side-by-side with doctors, nurses, and surgeons from throughout the region, exchanging expertise and providing assistance where we can to build a stronger neighborhood on a foundation of mutual respect and goodwill," Capt. Brian J. Diebold, commander of Task Force 49, said in a news release.
The ship is also scheduled to stop in Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago as well as conduct logistics and liberty port visits to Panama and Curacao, the Navy said.
This article is written by Brock Vergakis from The Virginian-Pilot and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.