SAN JUAN DEL SUR, Nicaragua (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) and the Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11) mission departed San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, June 27 after providing nine days of medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services.
While in Nicaragua, Comfort's crew triaged a total of 7,358 patients, which included medical, dental and optometry patients. To date, 36,371 patients in Jamaica, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Nicaragua have been triaged and nearly 600 surgeries have been performed.
"During my visits to each site ashore or to the surgical suites and the patient wards on board, I witnessed nothing less than a sincere passion for what we were sent out here to do," said Sanzone. "The returned smiles, hugs and tears from the host nation people are the most satisfying reward to the Comfort team. During the transit to our next destination, the crew will have an opportunity to relax and recharge as they prepare for another incredible journey."
The CP11 veterinarians and construction force also made an impact on the Nicaraguan community. The veterinary team treated a total of 1,484 animals and the embarked Seabees and Marines rehabilitated a medical clinic.
"This is a really unique opportunity to visit a variety of places that most people don't get to be a part of or never get to see," said Army Capt. Rachel Lee, officer-in-charge of CP11 veterinary services. "It's a very unique opportunity for us to be embedded in the community and to really get to know and work alongside the people, both the local citizens and host nation vets."
Throughout the Nicaragua mission, Comfort crew members welcomed many distinguished visitors (DVs) aboard including Nicaragua's Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo, the United States Ambassador to Nicaragua, the Honorable Robert Callahan and San Juan del Sur Mayor Jorge Sanchez.
"The DV visits let our Continuing Promise 2011 team show our guests what our mission capabilities are both on board and ashore and also help build and strengthen the relationships we have with our host nations," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Amanda Doolittle of the Medical Treatment Facility.
The conclusion of the visit, the mission's fifth, places the crew just beyond the halfway point of the CP11 mission.
"The morale of the crew is still at an all-time high," said USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) Medical Treatment Facility Command Master Chief Anna Sanzone. "They remain motivated and committed to the mission, whether it is the team of medical and dental providers delivering quality health and dental care, the team of educators sharing health care knowledge and best practices with their host-nation counterparts, the team of Seabees [and Marines] building and refurbishing schools and clinics, or the team of veterinarians providing care to domestic and farm animals, the team concept is recognized by everyone who has the privilege to deliver or receive the purpose of our presence."
Comfort and the CP11 mission team will visit Guatemala for its next stop.
Continuing Promise offers training for U.S. military personnel and partner nation forces while providing valuable services to communities in need.
This is the sixth humanitarian-focused naval deployment to the region since 2007, designed to promote partnerships and goodwill.
Comfort is one of two MSC hospital ships that can rapidly respond to a range of situations on short notice. The ship is uniquely capable of providing health services support as an element of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and has been configured to provide services at sea and ashore.
The ship is operated and navigated by a crew of 71 MSC civil service mariners who operate and navigate the ship and assist with the transfer of patients and mission personnel between ship and shore in hospitality boats.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) 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.
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For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.