NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Sen. Tim Kaine visited the USNS Comfort Friday morning.
Thomas-Greenfield and Kaine got a tour of the hospital ship’s space, met with sailors and civil service members, and were briefed on the vessel’s continuing promise missions.
Kaine said it was amazing to hear about the impactful work the military personnel do aboard the vessel.
“As a member of the Armed Services Committee and also a Foreign Relations Chair on the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I know what a difference this makes in terms of opening up diplomacy and building up relations with nations,” he said.
The visit comes after the ship’s most recent mission, Continuing Promise 2022 where teams went to Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, The Dominican Republic, and Haiti to provide medical help.
Commanding Officer Kathryn Elliot said in total, the team directly helped five-thousand people through many different services.
“We did over 250 surgeries onboard the ship, some cataract extractions, cleft surgeries; things that were really going to make a difference for the patients who were helped,” Elliot said.
The ship has 1,000 hospital beds, some of which were used to help New York hospitals give patient care during the Covid-19 pandemic. Being a ship that deploys on combat operations, humanitarian and disaster relief missions, the USNS Comfort was also there to provide medical care following the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield was also there in Haiti but didn’t get to see the innerworkings of the ship until now. She said she wanted to see the work going behind her wins in the United Nations.
“So, I want to know what they’re doing. “I want to be able to raise the flag of pride in what they’re doing when I’m sitting behind the placard in the United Nations. We lead with our hearts; this is nothing but heart here,” she said.
She said with the tragedies happening around the world, it was uplifting to see and talk to the people who help.
“With the horrific earthquake that just happened in Turkey, with the impact of the war in Ukraine – I am confident now having seen these extraordinary men and women that we are ready for those challenges. “
Thomas-Greenfield returned to public service in 2021 when President Joe Biden nominated her to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She previously retired in 2017 from the U.S. Foreign Service after more than 35 years.
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