By Mass Communications Specialist (SW) Amy Kirk, Continuing Promise 2015 Public Affairs
MIAMI, Fla. (NNS) -- The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Miami, Fla. April 6 making its way to Belize, the first Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15) mission stop.
CP-15 is a collaborative effort that affords military personnel the opportunity to work alongside partner nations and non-governmental organization civilian experts, promoting commitment and shared interests within the region of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
While in Miami, the Comfort hosted a luncheon on board for Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, the commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participating in CP-15. The luncheon provided an opportunity for CP-15 leadership and the NGO representatives to come together prior to the first mission stop in Belize.
"This is a hugely important mission for our country," said Kelly. "Pulling the Comfort, as big as it is and as beautiful as it is, up to these countries brings a great hope to the people of the Caribbean and Latin America."
Comfort is scheduled to conduct mission stops in Belize, Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama.
CP-15 personnel will work alongside partner nations and NGOs to provide medical, dental and veterinary care as well as engineering support and subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) that will cover a wide range of topics that have a specific focus, in order to maximize the information exchange between partner nations and CP-15 participants.
Kelly said that as wonderful as the mission is, it is the people who serve aboard the ship that provide the heart and soul.
"This includes our NGOs who will partner with ship's company to bring the miracle of medical care to that part of the world," he said.
The NGOs and partner nation medical professionals provide significant value and expertise to the overall mission. Throughout CP-15, the number of participating NGOs will vary by date and country due to availability, but over a dozen will participate this year, marking the highest number of NGOs taking part in a Continuing Promise mission.
In addition to the luncheon, the CP-15 crew provided ship tours for SOUTHCOM personnel, special guests and several local Boy Scout and Brownie troops. The tours offered guests the opportunity to see the medical treatment facility on board, to include casualty receiving, operating rooms and the intensive care unit.
Currently, personnel anticipate serving more than 130,000 patients and conducting more than 800 SMEEs; in addition more than 20 engineering and building site projects are scheduled to take place.
Continuing Promise 2015 is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to provide civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show U.S. Support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.