USNS Comfort Completes Humanitarian Mission

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2011 — Anoth­er chap­ter comes to a close today aboard the USNS Com­fort when it docks at Nor­folk, Va., after five months at sea sup­port­ing the Con­tin­u­ing Promise 2011 human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance mis­sion.

The hulk­ing hos­pi­tal ship — three foot­ball fields long and one wide — deliv­ered med­ical, den­tal, vet­eri­nary and engi­neer­ing assis­tance in the Caribbean Basin, Cen­tral Amer­i­ca and South Amer­i­ca. “First and fore­most, [the mis­sion] demon­strates the Unit­ed States’ com­mit­ment to the Caribbean Basin and Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca,” Navy Capt. Bri­an Nick­er­son, Con­tin­u­ing Promise mis­sion com­man­der, said. 

The deployed hos­pi­tal ship was�there for human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance, but also to sup­port U.S. defense strat­e­gy in the region. 

“This region is inex­tri­ca­bly linked to the eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and secu­ri­ty fab­ric of the Unit­ed States,” Nick­er­son said. “This deploy­ment also enables us to engage with region­al part­ners and improve inter­op­er­abil­i­ty, rela­tion­ships which could be called upon in the event of a region­al crisis.” 

From April through Sep­tem­ber, mem­bers of Con­tin­u­ing Promise 2011 pro­vid­ed med­ical ser­vices in surgery, neu­rol­o­gy, emer­gency med­i­cine, ortho­pe­dics, anes­the­si­ol­o­gy, den­tistry, fam­i­ly med­i­cine, pedi­atrics, pre­ven­tive med­i­cine, diag­nos­tics and vet­eri­nar­i­an sup­port, ship offi­cials said. 

Doc­tors and staff saw near­ly 70,000 patients and per­formed more than 1,100 surg­eries in nine coun­tries — Colom­bia, Cos­ta Rica, Ecuador, El Sal­vador, Guatemala, Hait�Jamaica, Nicaragua and Peru. 

The crew’s doc­tors came from the Navy, Army, Air Force and U.S. Pub­lic Health Ser­vice. Also onboard were civil­ian marines, non­govern­ment orga­ni­za­tion vol­un­teers and part­ner-nation mil­i­tary members. 

The USNS Com­fort, at 894-feet long, is three foot­ball fields long and one wide, with 250 hos­pi­tal beds and an 850-per­son team — from vol­un­teers and lin­guists to engi­neers and a large med­ical staff. 

In Jamaica, med­ical per­son­nel trained prac­ti­tion­ers to tell the dif­fer­ence between healthy babies and those who need assis­tance after birth, and how to pro­vide life-sav­ing care in its “Help­ing Babies Breathe” training. 

“The pur­pose … is to reduce unnec­es­sary neo-natal deaths world­wide,” Dr. Tom Dionne, mas­ter instruc­tor and Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pedi­atrics vol­un­teer, said in an ear­li­er report. He added that many infants die because of their birthing attendant’s lack of knowl­edge and equipment. 

Vet­eri­nar­i­ans treat­ed more than 8,200 ani­mals dur­ing the mis­sion, giv­ing vac­cines and de-worm­ing med­i­cines in addi­tion to spay­ing and neu­ter­ing domes­tic pets for their own­ers in nine countries. 

Com­fort arrived at its final mis­sion stop in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Aug. 18. There, the ship’s crew treat­ed about 1,450 patients and per­formed 15 surg­eries before Trop­i­cal Storm Irene began to bear down on the island. The hos­pi­tal ship got under way Aug. 21 and anchored at a safe haven until the storm passed. 

While the med­ical staff was busy car­ing for patients, the mission’s Seabees and Marines under­took 16 engi­neer­ing projects, mis­sion offi­cials said. They built two class­rooms from the ground up in Colom­bia, and reha­bil­i­tat­ed a med­ical clin­ic in Nicaragua. They also dis­tilled 8,300,000 gal­lons of water. 

The engi­neer team also reme­died elec­tric and plumb­ing issues, installed fences and secu­ri­ty bars, and added a bas­ket­ball hoop to a school playground. 

“The rela­tion­ships forged through oper­a­tions like Con­tin­u­ing Promise fos­ters trust, col­lab­o­ra­tion, and coop­er­a­tion with our friends and allies,” Nick­er­son said, adding the mis­sion “also be char­ac­ter­ized as defense sup­port to pub­lic diplo­ma­cy in that it sup­ports both region­al and nation­al objec­tives as well as the U.S. Glob­al Mar­itime Strategy.” 

After it leaves Nor­folk, the USNS Com­fort will return to its berth in Bal­ti­more some­time next week, accord­ing to Navy Lt. Stephanie Homick, Con­tin­u­ing Promise 2011 deputy pub­lic affairs officer. 

(Editor’s Note: Also con­tribut­ing to this report was Navy Lt. Stephanie Homick, Con­tin­u­ing Promise 2011 deputy pub­lic affairs officer.) 

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →