A U.S. Navy hospital ship has returned home after its crew treated thousands of people in Central and South America, including migrants who fled crisis-wracked Venezuela.

Kevin Buckley, the commanding officer for medical operations on the USNS Comfort, said Tuesday that 26,000 people were treated for anything from hernias to cataracts.

Line handlers wait as the US Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort approaches the pier at Naval Station Norfolk, Tuesday, Dec. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Line handlers wait as the US Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort approaches the pier at Naval Station Norfolk, Tuesday, Dec. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Buckley spoke on a pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia where the Comfort is based.

Navy personnel line the rails as the US Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort arrives pier side at Naval Station Norfolk, Tuesday, Dec. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Navy personnel line the rails as the US Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort arrives pier side at Naval Station Norfolk, Tuesday, Dec. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The 11-week mission stopped in countries that included Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Those nations are home to hundreds of thousands of struggling Venezuelans.

Captain Kevin Buckley, Commanding officer for the USNS Comfort, gestures as he speaks to the media as Captain William Shafley III, left, looks on as the US Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort arrives at Naval Station Norfolk, Tuesday, Dec. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Captain Kevin Buckley, Commanding officer for the USNS Comfort, gestures as he speaks to the media as Captain William Shafley III, left, looks on as the US Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort arrives at Naval Station Norfolk, Tuesday, Dec. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Many are desperately seeking health care and fled Venezuela because of a lack of access to doctors and medicine. A recent report estimated 20,000 doctors have left Venezuela since 2012.

Petty Officer Fred Brown, from Portsmouth, Va., is greeted by his dog Stella and wife, Jennifer, left as he arrives aboard the US Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk, Tuesday, Dec. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Petty Officer Fred Brown, from Portsmouth, Va., is greeted by his dog Stella and wife, Jennifer, left as he arrives aboard the US Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk, Tuesday, Dec. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Comfort also visited the Central American country of Honduras.

Source: The Associated Press

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