The hospital ship USNS Comfort brought medical, dental and civic action programs to nine Caribbean, Central and South American nations during this five-month humanitarian and civic assistance deployment. Continuing Promise offered training for U.S. military personnel and partner nation forces while providing valuable services to communities in need. This was the sixth humanitarian-focused naval deployment to the region since 2007 designed to promote partnerships and goodwill.
- 67,879 patients triaged
- 1,130 surgeries
- 1,130 admissions to the ICU
- 109,785 prescriptions filled
- 23,440 total glasses (reading and non-reading) given out
- 9,104 exams
- 3,863 cleanings
- 5,610 extractions
- 3,786 fillings
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) conducted the five-month Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11) deployment to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility from April - September 2011. The ship completed missions in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Peru and Haiti.
The mission was to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian civic assistance, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support, subject matter expert exchange and disaster relief to nine partner nations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
The ship’s mission was coordinated with partner nations in the region and planned hand-in-hand with a variety of other governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to creatively address the level and scope of care required to support regional medical needs. A key objective of this deployment was to address regional health service support requirements and promote clinical information sharing across the region.
The medical contingent aboard USNS Comfort was trained to provide general and specialty surgical care, primary and consultative care for children and adults, obstetrical and gynecological consultative care, ophthalmologic services, optometric services, preventative medicine treatment, dental screenings and treatment, optometry screenings, eyewear distribution, public health training, infrastructure support and veterinary services.
Embarked Medical, Engineering Teams
More than 8 Sailors and civilians took part in the mission. The military personnel came from various commands, including Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Navy Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion TWO EIGHT (NMCB 28), Maritime Civil Affairs Team 206, CLR-25 Medical Detachment and contingents of medical personnel from the armed forces of Canada, Chile, Germany, The Netherlands, Paraguay. (See list of participating Non-Governmental Organizations below)
Medical /Dental Services Provided
The primary focus of the medical teams was to provide a range of health care services ashore. On a case-by-case basis, select patients will receive certain medical or dental care on the ship.
The Continuing Promise teams partnered with local health care providers and community officials to provide free medical care to communities with limited access to medical treatment. These services included general and specialty surgical care, primary and consultative care for children and adults, obstetrical and gynecological consultative care, ophthalmologic services, optometric services, preventative medicine treatment, dental screenings and treatment, optometry screenings, eyewear distribution, public health training, infrastructure support and veterinary services.
Construction/Engineering Services Provided
The civic action programs were designed to assist each participating nation in providing local communities with a wide range of construction capabilities and include building repairs and improvements, new small construction projects, utility system repairs and construction/ technical assistance, pier repair, drainage projects and trenching. Projects depended on host nation requests and Comfort’s capabilities.
The personnel involved in CP11 received a wide array of training in how to plan and coordinate a broad spectrum of humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions because of the hands-on work they will be doing in each country. An important objective of this deployment was to capitalize on high-quality medical capabilities by taking these skills to places where they are needed and teaming up with host-nation medical, dental, veterinary professionals. The opportunity was unique and provided training opportunities and venues that are not easily simulated.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Participating
NGOs and partner nation medical professionals bring a significant value and expertise to the mission. CP11 NGOs included:
Rotary Club International
University of Florida
Latter Day Saints Charities
University of California San Diego
Give a Kid a Backpack/Samaritan Feet
Food for the Poor
The Wheelchair Foundation
About USNS Comfort & Crew
USNS Comfort is one of two Military Sealift Command hospital ships that can rapidly respond to a range of situations on short notice. The ship is uniquely capable of providing health services support as an element of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and has been configured to provide a range of services at sea and ashore. Comfort is operated and navigated by a crew of 71 civil service mariners from the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command who operate and navigate the ship and assist with the transfer of patients and mission personnel between ship and shore in small boats.
This was the sixth Continuing Promise deployment to the region and follows USNS Comfort’s 2007 and 2009 deployments, USS Boxer’s (LHD 4) and USS Kearsarge’s (LHD 3) 2008 deployments and USS Iwo Jima’s (LHD 7) 2010 deployment to the region. The last time Comfort was in the region was during Haiti earthquake relief operations in early 2010 (Operation Unified Response).