SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (NNS) -- Members of the Construction Maintenance Unit 202 on board hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) are expanding the Dominican Republic National Reference Laboratory here during their 10-day visit as part of Continuing Promise 2009 (CP09).
The U.S. Navy Engineers, more commonly known as Seabees, worked alongside Dominican military engineers to improve the country's blood storage capability by constructing a refrigeration room at the lab.
CP09 is a joint effort between U.S. military and interagency personnel, nongovernmental organizations, civil service mariners, academia and partner nations to provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services afloat and ashore alongside host nation personnel.
"Working together gives us the ability to learn from each other," said Construction Electrician 3rd Class Kyle Nixon, a Seabee deployed with Comfort. "Even though our uniforms represent different countries and different languages, we are all working towards the same goals by applying our skills to build up a facility that will have a direct impact on the entire country."
Despite the language barrier, the troops were able to work effectively. Additions to the facility included construction of a climate controlled room, addition of air conditioning units, re-routing drainage pipes, and improvements to the electric capability.
"This is the first time I've worked with U.S. troops, and it has been very rewarding," said Dominican Navy Sgt. Candido Valera. "It's a great representation of the partnership between our nations."
CP09 provides an opportunity to provide humanitarian aid but also to learn from host nation partners and train a diverse team of experts who are able to respond to a regional crisis. This mission serves as an enabling platform for all participants to coordinate and carry out humanitarian civic assistance efforts.
"It's a privilege to be involved in a humanitarian mission where we can make friends and make a difference on a national level," said Engineering Aid 1st Class Damian Brown.
The Seabees are simultaneously working on a similar project at Otto Martinez, a local school, where they are expanding a classroom.
Seabees normally deploy to build contingency constructions in wartime, and for this humanitarian mission they are working on construction that will improve the lives of many people.
Comfort's crew is expected to be in the Dominican Republic until May 1 and will continue to Antigua and Barbuda as part of CP09's four month humanitarian and civic assistance mission in Latin America and the Caribbean.
For more information about Continuing Promise, visit www.southcom.mil.
For more news from Continuing Promise, visit www.navy.mil/local/CP09/.