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Continuing Promise 2015 | USNS Comfort mission to Latin America & Caribbean

Continuing Promise was a training mission which helped strengthen regional partnerships while improving the lives of thousands in Central and South America and the Caribbean.  From April - September 2015, a diverse team comprised of U.S. military medical & construction personnel, private aid organizations and partner nation officials on USNS Comfort provided health care and community assistance projects in 11 nations.  Continuing Promise helps the U.S. and host nations develop relationships and improve capabilities to respond to a humanitarian crisis or disaster in the region.


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More Continuing Promise photos & video at Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

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Overview

Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command training mission introduced in 2007.  During this year's mission, an estimated 120,000 patients were seen; more than 800 subject matter expert exchanges took place covering medical, veterinary, engineering and environmental health topics; and more than 20 engineering and building site projects were completed. Hundreds of surgeries were also performed by teams of specialized medical personnel from the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The mission strengthens partnerships and improve cooperation on many levels with our partner nations, interagency organizations and nongovernmental organizations.  This year’s mission included the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), a U.S. Navy hospital ship operated by Military Sealift Command.

Continuing Promise 2015 missions were conducted in 11 countries:

Belize, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama, and for the first time, visiting Dominica and Honduras.

Map of Central America, South America & Caribbean detailing stops for Continuing Promise mission.

About the Embarked Medical & Engineering Teams

U.S. military medical personnel from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia, other Navy Medicine commands, as well as medical personnel from the Army and Air Force contributed to Continuing Promise 2015 along with NGOs, U.S. Public Health Service, and host-nation medical and dental teams. 

Comfort had an international, interagency and multi-specialized team of professionals on board that provided a wide range of humanitarian services on and off the ship. This diverse team included personnel from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany and Peru as well as personnel from each host nation. 

The number of personnel varies, but was generally around 1,000, including the personnel assigned to the Military Treatment Facility, augmentees and Civil Service Mariners.

Medical | Dental | Veterinary Services Provided

The medical, dental, veterinary and civic action programs were designed to assist each participating host nation in providing local communities with a wide range of health services.  These services included:

  • General surgery

  • Ophthalmologic surgery

  • Basic medical evaluation and treatment

  • Preventive medicine treatment

  • Dental screenings and treatment

  • Optometry screenings & eyewear distribution

  • Veterinary services

  • Public health training (plus additional specialties as applicable)

Construction/Engineering Services Provided

The civic action programs were designed to assist each participating host nation in providing local communities with a wide range of construction capabilities and included:

  • Building repairs and improvements

  • New small construction projects

  • Utility system repairs

  • Construction/technical assistance, pier repair, drainage projects and trenching

Projects depended on host nation requests and USNS Comfort’s capabilities. 

Training

This misison provides a valuable opportunity for participants to learn from host nation and civilian experts. This experience helped ensure the United States, NGOs and the host nations are able to rapidly respond together in support of disaster response efforts in the future.

Chain of Command

While deployed in the SOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility, USNS Comfort was under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet (USNAVSO/4th Fleet) and the tactical control of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40 (COMDESRON 40); COMDESRON 40 has been designated as the Mission Commander, Commander, Task Force 48 (CTF 48).

Capt. Sam Hancock, commander, Destroyer Squadron 40, was the mission commander. Capt. Christine Sears commanded the Military Treatment Facility (MTF) aboard USNS Comfort. The ship’s civil service master, Capt. Jonathan Olmsted, was responsible for the ship’s safe and timely navigation and day-to-day operations.

Supporting U.S. Military Commands

Many commands from different branches of service were embarked on USNS Comfort. U.S. Navy personnel represented Destroyer Squadron 40 (DESRON 40); U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED); U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command; Navy Public Affairs Support Element (NPASE); Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC); Army 10th Mountain Division; Combat Camera Detachment (NECC DET COMCAM); U.S. Fleet Forces Band; Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; Regional Legal Service Office Southeast; Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC) and Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), part of U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM); Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS); Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202 (CBMU 202); Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit Two (NEPMU 2).

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Participating

Some of the NGOs participating in Continuing Promise 2015 were LDS Charities, Peace Corps, World Vision and Operation Blessing International. Additionally other governmental organizations like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will participate in CP-15

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 more than 70 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.

Background

This was the seventh Continuing Promise deployment to the region since 2007 and USNS Comfort’s fourth (2007, 2009 and 2011).  USNS Comfort's planned deployment in support of Continuing Promise 2013 was cancelled due to budget limitations imposed by sequestration. 

Continuing Promise 2015 Infographics

INFOGRAHIC.  Includes picture of USNS Comfort.  CAPTION: USNS Comfort’s crew has provided CARE IN 9 NATIONS during an 11-nation deployment to Latin America & the Caribbean. 93,000 patients treated; 1,000 surgeries.

INFOGRAPHIC.  Includes picture of USNS Comfort.  CAPTION: USNS Comfort’s crew has provided CARE IN 9 NATIONS during an 11-nation deployment to Latin America & the Caribbean. 93,000 patients treated; 1,000 surgeries. (Created by SOUTHCOM Public Affairs)

 

INFOGRAHIC.  Includes picture of USNS Comfort, photos of military medical care and map of Central and South America.

INFOGRAPHIC.  Includes picture of USNS Comfort, photos of military medical care and map of Central and South America.  CAPTION: CONTINUING PROMISE 2015: Hospital ship USNS Comfort’s 5-month humanitarian deployment to 11 Latin America & Caribbean nations is past the halfway point. A look at medical care provided: 65K+ Patients Treated, 700+ Surgeries, 6 nations visited: Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Panama, El Salvador.  (Produced by SOUTHCOM Public Affairs) 

 

SOUTHCOM infographic, May 8, 2015.  Text: Continuing Promise 2015.  Hospital ship USNS Comfort has completed missions in Belize and Guatemala.  A look at what was accomplished: 16,000 patients treated; 200 surgeries; renovations of clinics and schools; professional exchanges on 60 topics.  (Produced by SOUTHCOM Public Affairs) 

Infographic: USNS Comfort’s U.S. military, NGO & partner nation crew is in Belize providing free health care for hundreds of people, completing community construction projects, & conducting multiple training exchanges

SOUTHCOM infographic, April 9, 2015.  Text: The hospital ship USNS Comfort’s U.S. military, NGO & partner nation crew is in Belize providing free health care for hundreds of people, completing community construction projects, & conducting multiple training exchanges with Belizean officials.  (Produced by SOUTHCOM Public Affairs) 

 
Text version: From April–September, Military medical & Construction teams from the hospital ship USNS Comfort will bring free heatlh care and community assistance projects to  11 Caribbean, Central & South American nations.

SOUTHCOM infographic, March 12, 2015. Text version: From April–September, Military medical and construction teams from the hospital ship USNS Comfort will bring free health care and community assistance projects to  11 Caribbean, Central and South American nations.  (Produced by SOUTHCOM Public Affairs)

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