The current humanitarian mission will take the ship to seven Latin American and Caribbean nations, including Antigua, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama.
Its medical capabilities seem endless: 12 spotless operating rooms for its 20 surgeons, five dental rooms, the most modern scanners and MRIs around, 5,000 units of blood, 1,000 beds and enough boats and helicopters to transport hundreds of patients a day.
The last similar mission for the ship was in 2007. The USNS Comfort is one of only two such ships under the U.S. arsenal. The other is the USNS Mercy, based in San Diego.
Also aboard the ship Saturday were 500 teddy bears. No one was quite sure where they were going, but everyone seemed to know where they came from.
A group of girls from the sorority house Phi Sigma Sigma at Florida International University brought them ship side, packed in boxes. Phi Sigma Sigma is a Chapter of Hugs Across America, a not for profit organization that provides teddies for children in crisis.
The bears were all donated, said FIU senior Catherine Vallin, 21.
”We love to give back,” she added.