From Continuing Promise 2015 Public Affairs
PANAMA CITY, Panama (NNS) -- The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) celebrated the mid-deployment mark upon arrival in Panama City, Panama, June 30, for the crew's first liberty port during Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15).
The united effort of host nation participants and the CP-15 crew has reflected a mutual dedication to providing quality patient care and promoting the shared interests, values and commitment to the region. This has resulted in the treatment of more than 62,500 primary care patients and veterinary care to more than 3,600 animals during mission visits in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador.
"The combined efforts and teamwork that the CP-15 crew has demonstrated working hand-in-hand with our many host nation friends and partners has made the first half of this mission both extremely successful and incredibly rewarding," said Capt. Sam Hancock, CP-15's mission commander. "We look forward to our five upcoming mission stops to continue to foster the partnerships and promote our shared interests throughout the region."
CP-15 host nation participants, partner nation participants, crew members, and non-governmental organization (NGO) volunteers have contributed to the seamless coordination of logistics, surgical screenings, patient care, engineering site projects, subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs), and community relations (COMREL) events.
The SMEEs have been a consistent joint effort between the host nation governments, ministries of health, local hospitals, clinics, labs and staffs. Each of the 730 SMEE topics has built upon relationships created in previous years' missions. CP-15 participants have used these opportunities to share best practices, covering multiple topics, including medical and dental care; veterinary care for all sizes of animals; men's and women's health seminars; disease pathology and treatment; vector management; biomedical repairs; and crisis response.
The CP-15 surgical team has worked alongside host nation surgeons and nurses to perform over 660 surgeries. Additional surgeries have been performed by the NGO, Operation Smile, in both Nicaragua and Panama.
"It has been a pleasure to work alongside the host nation surgeons and NGO medical providers. We have learned from one another, while building lasting relationships," said Cmdr. Timothy Powell, director of surgical services aboard Comfort. "Our greatest demand specialties have been general surgery, ophthalmology and [obstetrics and gynecology]."
The CP-15 team also includes an interventional radiologist who has performed several procedures, a new capability for the mission, according to Powell.
The engineering projects and COMREL events have played a large role in the continued commitment to Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Seabees attached to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida, have completed 59 projects, including the construction of a library and two pavilions; the installation of doors and windows; and multiple electrical, fencing, and plumbing repairs.
The COMREL events have included dozens of visits to schools, orphanages, senior citizen homes, concerts, and sporting events alongside members of the community in each host nation. The U.S. Fleet Forces Band, Uncharted Waters, has shared their musical talents throughout the mission, performing 67 concerts at COMREL events, medical sites, and schools. The band has also taught masters classes to youths and held joint performances alongside host nation bands.
Although this port visit marks the halfway point in the mission, the crew continues to look ahead to the remaining CP-15 mission stops, which include Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Honduras.
Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct 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 America, South America and the Caribbean.