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USNS Comfort Departs for Puerto Rico

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NORFOLK (NNS) — The Military Sealift Command hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), departed Naval Station Norfolk Friday and is now underway and making final preparations to support relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

USNS Comfort can arrive in Puerto Rico as early as Oct. 3, but the final date and arrival location is to be determined.

“The medical capability the ship can deliver can be done underway, it can be done in port, or it can be done at anchor. Between the helicopter capability we have and the boats we have, all of those things together give us the ability to be flexible in our mission,” said Capt. Kevin Robinson, commander, forward command element aboard USNS Comfort.

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USNS Comfort departed Naval Station Norfolk with over 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff with the medical treatment facility, and over 70 civil service mariners. The medical personnel will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include general practice, family medicine, nephrology and pediatrics. The civil service mariners operate and navigate the ship, load and off-load mission cargo, assist with repairs to mission equipment and provide essential services to keep the MTF up and running.

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When not deployed, USNS Comfort is kept in a reduced operating status but can transition to full operating status in five days.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departs Naval Station Norfolk Friday to support humanitarian relief operations. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ernest R. Scott)

“48 hours ago there were less than 100 people onboard this ship that included civilian mariners and medical treatment facility personnel. Over the past 36 hours, we have flown medical professionals and their support personnel from all over the country and the number of people onboard right now is over 800,” said Robinson.

Comfort’s MTF is an embarked crew of medical personnel from the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery responsible for operating and maintaining one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the MTF crew, many of whom just found out last night that they were deploying today,” said Capt. Kevin Buckley, commanding officer, USNS Comfort’s MTF.

USNS Comfort’s primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. Comfort’s secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.

USNS Comfort is the second of two Mercy-class hospital ships. A converted San Clemente-class supertanker, Comfort delivered to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command Dec. 1, 1987.

Military Sealift Command operates the ships which sustain our warfighting forces and deliver specialized maritime services in support of national security objectives in peace and war.

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Big League National Security

Tommy Tuberville Says “We Can’t Worry About China Right Now”

Even though they allowed the disease to spread.

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Former football coach and Alabama US Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville said that “we can’t worry about China right now” in a radio appearance with Talk 99.5’s “Matt and Aunie Show on Thursday.

When asked by hosts about the implications of the global coronavirus epidemic on the United States’ relationship with China, Tuberville said, “Well, we can’t worry about China right now. We’ve gotta worry about Alabama and this country.

Tuberville is currently running to represent Alabama in the United States Senate, although he’s been registered as a Florida voter in the past.

His comments on China policy will leave many Americans concerned with the nation’s role in the coronavirus epidemic unsatisfied. Certainly, containing the epidemic in this country is the priority, but a wide range of conservatives and China hawks have already begun to discuss the need to fundamentally reevaluate the United States’ relationship with China. The damage already inflicted upon American society and the global economy does present a pressing case that such a question is in fact urgent.

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Tuberville is running for Senator, not Governor. He could be forgiven if he was running for an office not entrusted with high-level foreign policy responsibilities, but Senators in the coming months and years will be entrusted with developing China policy that recognizes the authoritarian communist nation’s role in allowing and covering up the global coronavirus epidemic.

Contrasting in stark fashion, Tuberville’s opponent for the Republican nomination for US Senate in Alabama, Jeff Sessions, has called for a congressional select committee to investigate China’s role in covering up the dangers posed to the world by the coronavirus, the virus’ origin in Wuhan, and potentially lying about the casualties incurred as a result of the disease in China.

If Alabama voters want a Republican Senator who is going to be tough on China, it doesn’t look like Tommy Tuberville is up to task.

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