Usns Comfort Won't Sail Operation Restore Hope

December 09, 1992|By Robert A. Erlandson

The Baltimore-based hospital ship USNS Comfort will not be sailing for Somalia and Operation Restore Hope in the foreseeable future, the Pentagon said yesterday.

The decision provoked mixed reaction among medical personnel the Bethesda naval medical center who have been scurrying to update their records and get immunizations against tropical diseases.

"It was still go" at a 7 a.m. staff meeting yesterday, said Cmdr. George L. Marsh of Poolesville, who would have been assistant director of nursing services aboard the Comfort. "But at 8:40 a.m. the CO [commanding officer] came in with the information that we're not going."

The news touched off a scramble to notify people who had gone about their business after the staff meeting.

Some had celebrated an early Christmas with their children last weekend, and some had even planned to ship their children to relatives across the country while they were away.

"It's up and down at the same time," Commander Marsh said.

Aboard the Comfort, Cmdr. Ralph Lockhart, the skipper in port, said, "Emotionally we were geared up, so it's kind of a letdown."

Most of the ship's activity since the alert last week was checking equipment and preparing requisitions for supplies that would have been needed on the voyage, he said.

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