2 sailors hurt after several fell into water during Navy medical mission in Haiti
Stars and Stripes December 13, 2022
Two Navy sailors were recovering from minor injuries Tuesday after they and many others fell into the waters off Haiti during a humanitarian mission, service officials said.
The sailors and 17 others fell into the waters off the coast in Jeremie, a commune in western Haiti, as they were being transferred from a small ship onto the hospital ship USNS Comfort.
The Navy’s 4th Fleet said the small boat became unstable during the transfer, tipped over and the people in the boat fell into the water. All 19 eventually made it safely onto the hospital ship with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, which had some cutters in the area.
Officials didn’t detail the two sailors’ injuries, but the 4th Fleet said they should make a full recovery.
As a result of the accident, the Navy halted ship transfers for Tuesday “until a safe alternative for personnel transfer has been identified.” A spokesman for the 4th Fleet said it’s not yet known whether the mission will continue as scheduled through Thursday.
The Comfort traveled to Haiti as part of a five-nation medical mission — “Continuing Promise” — to provide medical and dental care to needy people in those countries, which also included Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Haiti was the mission’s final stop.
Haiti was included in Continuing Promise 2022 after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the island nation in August 2021 and killed more than 2,000 people.
The USNS Comfort, which was built in the 1970s and entered service in 1987, played a major role in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. in 2020. During April of that year, it remained stationed off New York City as an overflow medical facility to care for hundreds of virus patients.