From a U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet News Release
NORFOLK, Va., March 31, 2015 – U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is set to deploy from Norfolk, Virginia, this week to Central and South America and the Caribbean from April through October in support of Continuing Promise 2015, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet officials said today.
During the six-month mission, the Comfort will visit Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama.
“Just as in previous years’ missions, the goal is to increase unity, security and stability by fostering strong partnerships and working as a team to improve the lives of thousands of men, women and children from these countries,” said Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet.
‘Real People, Real Needs’
“Continuing Promise focuses on real people with real needs,” he added. “Working alongside local government officials and medical professionals from each of the host nations as well as volunteers from nongovernmental agencies, our teams will work to meet the day-to-day needs of communities and prepare to respond together in disaster relief.”
Continuing Promise is sponsored by U.S. Southern Command, conducted by Naval Forces Southern Command, 4th Fleet. The deployed operation focuses on civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support, and disaster response to partner nations.
The Comfort, operated by Military Sealift Command, will carry over 1,000 people from the U.S. Navy, partner nations and nongovernmental agencies to each country. This year’s mission includes over 50 NGOs, a marked increase in global participation compared to previous years’ missions, officials said. Continuing Promise participants will work alongside local government officials and medical professionals from the host nation to meet the day-to-day needs of communities and assist in natural disaster responsiveness.
Comfort’s shipboard hospital is configured with specialized medical equipment and staffed by a multi-specialty medical team of uniformed and civilian health care providers to offer a range of services ashore as well as on board the ship.
During Continuing Promise, an estimated 104,000 patients will be seen. More than 400 subject matter expert exchanges will take place, covering medial, veterinary, engineering and environmental health topics; and more than 20 engineering and building site projects will be completed. Hundreds of surgeries will be performed by teams of specialized medical personnel from the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and various NGOs, officials said.