<P>period of approximately four months. The USNS Comfort deployed in 2007 and 2010 to Central and South America as well as the Caribbean region, replicating these humanitarian assistance missions. HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF HOSPITAL SHIPS Hospital ship missions are not new to the U.S. government or the international community. The hospital ship USS Hope was commissioned by the Navy in 1944 to render forward deployed medical care to wounded service members in the Paci?c during World War II. Acquired by the Navy just 15 days after the USS Hope, the hospital ship USS Consolation also supported operations in the Paci?c before being decommissioned in 1955 and later chartered to the People-to-People Health Foundation and renamed SS Hope in 1960. The SS Hope departed for her inaugural mission to Indonesia in Sep- tember 1960 to provide medical support and training to the Indonesian population. For the next 14 years, the SS Hope would conduct 11 voyag- es serving underdeveloped areas of the world. Missions included port calls in East Asia (South Vietnam), South Asia (Sri Lanka), North Africa (Tunisia), Central America (Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Colombia), South America (Brazil and Peru), and the Caribbean (Jamaica). It took only four years after the SS Hope was decommissioned in 1974 before another civilian organization, the NGO Mercy Ships, would assume a similar humanitarian mission. Mercy Ships was established in 1978 with a mission to reach popula- tions in developing countries in desperate need of medical services. This NGO recognized that 21 of the 24 worlds largest cities were port cities, and within just 100 miles of these 21 cities lived two-thirds of the worlds population (5). To reach this population, Mercy Ships purchased their ?rst vessel in 1978 and began recruiting health care professionals from around the world to provide services on the ship. The Anastasis was an 11-ton pas- senger ship that was converted into the worlds largest NGO hospital ship. After 29 years of service, the Anastasis was retired in 2007 and replaced by the Africa Mercy. The new vessel remains the largest NGO hospital ship in the world and is sta?ed by professionals representing 30 di?erent coun- tries. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has performed services valued in excess of $834 million and has impacted more than 2.9 million individuals with over 563 port visits to 53 developing nations and 17 developed nations (6). In addition to the U.S. Navy and NGO Mercy Ships, China recently built and deployed their Navy hospital ship the Peace Ark to conduct humanitarian assistance missions around Africa and the Central America and Caribbean regions in an e?ort to achieve their foreign policy goals. 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