The hospital ship Comfort reached the Ecuadorian city of Manta on Wednesday, the vessel’s first stop in a five-month humanitarian mission to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.

On its seventh visit to the region since 2007, Comfort is carrying service members and medical professionals who provide humanitarian medical support to countries hosting Venezuelans who fled their country during an ongoing period of political and economic instability.

“We are absolutely thrilled and eager to begin our work here in the beautiful port of Manta,” Task Force 49 commander Capt. Brian J. Diebold said in a statement released Thursday.

“Comfort’s team is ready to work side-by-side with doctors, nurses, and surgeons from throughout the region, exchanging expertise and providing assistance where we can to build a stronger neighborhood on a foundation of mutual respect and goodwill.”

U.S. Southern Command announced May 7 that the ship would deploy to Latin America from June through November in the midst of a power struggle between U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó and Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro.

The Norfolk-based Comfort participated in a similar humanitarian mission aiding Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras in late 2018.