NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) returned to its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Sept. 30, officially completing Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15), the six-month humanitarian and civil assistance mission to Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
The mission provided medical, engineering and veterinary services to 11 countries, sending a strong message of commitment to Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
The CP-15 team planned, coordinated and facilitated the requests and needs of each mission stop, working with the 11 host nations, their ministries and their governments to effectively partner with each country.
"Continuing Promise 2015 offered an opportunity to strengthen bonds and friendships on a level that is unique and special to this mission," said Capt. Sam Hancock, CP-15 mission commander. "This deployment allowed us to engage with our regional partners and host nation counterparts, furthering our interoperability to provide care and services, address common concerns and demonstrate our commitment to fostering a lasting partnership. This in turn, improves our collective capacity to respond together in the case of a future contingency."
Comfort left her homeport in April and completed mission stops in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Haiti.
"Continuing Promise is an opportunity to share our common talents in preparing to meet our common goals of stability and security. Using health care, engineering skills, preventive medicine and veterinary care to work side-by-side one another, is an incredible way to move forward together," said Capt. Christine Sears, commanding officer of the Medical Treatment Facility aboard Comfort.
CP-15 had the highest number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the mission's history. In total, more than 400 volunteers from various NGOs were embarked aboard Comfort at some point during the mission, including members from World Vets, Latter-day Saints Charities, Project HOPE, Registered Nurses Response Network, University of California San Diego Pre-Dental Society, Operation Blessing and Operation Smile.
"The men and women who made up the Continuing Promise team came from around the globe, from different military branches and different NGOs, but the one thing they all had in common was a desire to improve the lives of others," said Lt. Amy Welkie, the mission's NGO liaison. "The NGOs worked seamlessly with military personnel to enhance mission capacity and make this deployment a tremendous success."
In addition to the medical care provided, Navy Seabees attached to Construction Battalion Mobile Unit (CBMU) 202 from Virginia Beach, and Jacksonville, Florida, completed over 90 engineering projects ranging from the construction of a chicken coop and walkways, to installing fencing and refurbishing the various sites and locations.
CP-15 personnel also participated in more than 40 sporting events, including basketball, soccer and volleyball, and volunteered for over 40 community relations projects, offering extra hands to help with landscaping, painting, distributing donations of schools supplies, shoes, and books and spending time with the residents at multiple orphanages and senior citizen homes.
Sailors assigned to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band "Uncharted Waters" performed more than 100 concerts, including concerts for host nation citizens at medical sites, schools and orphanages and performances for dignitaries and distinguished visitors at official ceremonies and receptions, both on and off the ship.
The CP-15 mission provided an excellent opportunity for the
U.S. military and its partner nations to work with NGOs, international organizations and host nations to build strong relationships that can be called upon in the event of a regional disaster. The relationships built and sustained through missions like Continuing Promise help tremendously in humanitarian efforts and preserving peace and stability in the region.
This was the seventh CP mission in support of the U.S. Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment, the fourth of which Comfort served as the hospital ship. Continuing Promise conducts 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 the United States' continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.
For more news from Continuing Promise, visit www.navy.mil/local/cp/.