Baltimore-based USNS Comfort sails to Haiti on a humanitarian mission to help earthquake victims. Word came from the Pentagon just hours after the Comfort's mission began: Prepare to push the floating emergency center to the outer boundary of its capabilities. The ship left Baltimore with enough crew and supplies to run the equivalent of a 250-bed hospital and four operating rooms -- about a quarter of its theoretical limits. With another 350 crew members to board when they arrived in Port-au-Prince, the 894-foot ship reached its full operational capacity for the first time since it was delivered to the Navy in 1987. "This is the right way to use this ship," said Cmdr. Tim Donahue, a urological surgeon from Bethesda and director of surgery for the mission to Haiti. "It doesn't make sense for us to go down there with only four operating rooms when we have 12 that we can use. "If we're down there, we need to maximize the capability of the ship. And we are."
Baltimore Sun Photo by Kim Hairston