PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the ninth and final mission stop of the Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11) mission Aug. 29.
The CP11 team treated nearly 3,777 patients in Port-au-Prince providing care to the disaster-stricken nation recovering from a devastating earthquake in January 2010.
Over the span of five months, Comfort and the CP11 mission team visited Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Peru, bringing humanitarian aid, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support to communities in need through the spirit of partnership and goodwill.
"CP11 was a unique, and for many of us, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve aboard one of our nation's two hospital ships," said Commodore Brian Nickerson, CP11 mission commander. "The level of expertise and personal commitment that was assembled in support of this mission was incredible. Being afforded the chance to work alongside some of our nation's finest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and civilian mariners, as well as a diverse and impressive group of professionals representing many disciplines, non-governmental organizations, and partner nations was both humbling and inspiring.
"CP11 was a demonstration of the United State's commitment to the Caribbean Basin and Central and South America," Nickerson added. "It was also a chance to serve, train, share ideas, and make new friendships in nine different countries. But in its simplest form, CP11 was about People Helping People."
The CP11 team triaged 67,879 patients during the entire mission, performing 3,863 dental cleanings and exams, 1,130 surgeries and prescribing 109,785 prescriptions. The veterinarian team treated 8,214 animals, administering antibiotic deworming treatments to a variety of animals, and spaying and neutering domestic pets. The CP11 construction force completed 15 projects, which included the construction of two new classrooms in Colombia. The U.S. Fleet Forces Band performed for 30,700 people at 123 different events.
CP11 personnel experienced the culture of the countries they visited while performing their daily mission responsibilities, as well as during community relations events and liberty port calls.
"Growing up in the United States has been great, but coming out to other countries and seeing how other people live on a day-to-day basis has really been an eye opener," said Musician 3rd Class Trent Perrin, a U.S. Fleet Forces Band member. "Walking around in the cities and experiencing them first-hand was interesting, and being in the band and playing with musicians from all over the world was enlightening because we were able to talk with the people and realize how similar our jobs are no matter where we are from. This mission was an experience that I will never forget, and I am very glad that I was able to do this trip."
In addition to the planned events of the CP11 mission, Comfort's crew of military and civilian personnel also assisted with two search and rescue missions in Costa Rica and a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) of four seriously injured Colombian civilians, which tested the crew's ability to respond in a crisis.
"As a watch officer, my role on board is to be the ship master's immediate representative. So while on watch, whenever there's any type of emergency, be it a [search and rescue mission] like in Costa Rica, or a MEDEVAC like in Colombia, it's my job to make sure that all of the appropriate people are in place and that communications are established between everybody," said Edward Pollard, a civilian mariner on board Comfort and the ship's third officer. "Considering that we were able to assist the young boy during the search and rescue in Costa Rica and bring the critically injured gentlemen on board for medical treatment in Colombia basically saving their lives, I believe that we were very successful in responding to the two emergencies."
Pollard explained that although this was his first time on a humanitarian mission, it was truly an honor and a blessing to be able to watch so many different organizations come together, all for the greater good, and complete the mission.
"I can't wait to do another humanitarian mission, because people can really get an idea of the United States [and partner nations] using all of [their] resources to help anyone for any reason," said Pollard. "Being able to say that I have been to each one of these countries and saying that I had a role in ensuring that each of the doctors and volunteers were able to get ashore to do their jobs is great," Pollard added. "What we were able to accomplish shows that everyone was able to do their jobs, and it is because of that we were able to save so many lives."
The completion of the CP11 mission marks the sixth Continuing Promise mission since its start in 2007.
Comfort will make a brief stop at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Sept. 2, before returning to its layberth in Baltimore.
COMUSNAVSO/COMFOURTHFLT supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c2f/.