Title: Medical Aid Sign from the USNS Comfort used during Hurricane Katrina
Accession #: NHHC 2012-57-1
Size: 64 x 30
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command
Homemade wood sign, painted white with blue lettering. Sign reads “USNS COMFORT HOSPITAL SHIP (red cross) INDIVIDUALS NEEDING MEDICAL CARE PROCEED TO (red arrow pointing right).” The sign has tubular steel legs bolted onto the back of the wood board. Photos of the sign in situ in 2005 show the sign reads “USNS COMFORT HOSPITAL SHIP (red cross) INDIVIDUALS NEEDING MEDICAL CARE PROCEED TO GATE.” The word GATE has been painted over with white paint.
This makeshift sign was created by USNS Comfort mariners to direct patients to the ship for medical care while the ship was docked in Pascagoula, MS during the relief operations for hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The storms devastated the Gulf Coast region, bringing massive flooding and damaging winds. USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) was deployed from September 2005 until October 2005 in assisting with the relief effort. Nearly 1,500 people received medical care from the ship.
The primary mission of hospital ships like USNS Comfort is to act as medical treatment facilities. Operated by Military Sealift Command, they provide emergency on-site care and support for US forces deployed in combat or other operations. They are also equipped to provide disaster relief and humanitarian aid. Some reports indicate that the 2005 Katrina deployment was the biggest humanitarian response in the continental United States undertaken by Military Sealift Command.