Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
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April 25, 2011
USNS Comfort, Continuing Promise 2011, Depart Jamaica After Treating Thousands
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kim Williams, Continuing Promise 2011 Public Affairs
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) and its Continuing Promise 2011 (CP '11) team departed Jamaica April 23 following ten days of medical, dental and veterinary care, engineering support and subject matter expert exchanges.
Comfort's crew performed 126 surgeries, treated 560 physical therapy patients, dispensed 3,161 pairs of eyeglasses and aided 1,186 dental patients during its mission in Jamaica.
For days, Kingston residents packed medical sites at the city's National Sports Arena and Windward Health Centre where many were eventually given an appointment for further treatment on board the ship.
"CP '11's mission in Jamaica clearly showed the United States' commitment to the Caribbean and what can be accomplished when partner nations work together toward a common good," said Capt. Brian Nickerson, Continuing Promise 2011 commodore. "Our visit also reinforced the idea that what we are doing does matter even though we are not able to help everyone. To those who we are able to help, it means everything."
CP '11 is a collaborative effort involving military and civilian medical professionals from a variety of organizations including National Nurses United and Memorial Healthcare, as well as support from non-governmental organizations such as Loving Hugs Inc. and Edge Outreach to name a few.
In addition to the two medical community service sites, CP '11 personnel also performed community relations (COMREL) projects at local schools, churches and children's homes.
For many Sailors on board Comfort, the COMRELs presented an opportunity to impact children's lives.
"It's great to be involved with people, especially different cultures in different atmospheres," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Kevin Cobb. "Working with young people has always been my thing. To have children around me is great and to be able to teach them something that they won't forget, that is going to be forever marked in their heads forever that they will remember even when they get old and gray is even better."
In addition to providing humanitarian and civil assistance to host nation residents, CP '11 also serves as an opportunity for Comfort's crew to learn from partner nation and civilian experts.
"My sense is that our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, partner nation representatives and civilian volunteers are leaving Jamaica having gained valuable experience from a regional partner nation and in-country civilian experts," said Nickerson. "The hands-on training and subject matter expert exchanges that have occurred over the last ten days are developing the relationships and building the experience that may be needed during a future regional crisis or foreign disaster response."
Throughout the Jamaica mission, Comfort crew members welcomed many distinguished visitors aboard including the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honorable Bruce Golding; and U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela Bridgewater.
CP '11 Jamaica concluded with a closing ceremony luncheon hosted by the crew of the Comfort and American Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica.
Comfort is deployed in support of Continuing Promise 2011, a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to the Caribbean, Central and South America. Comfort is operated and navigated by 70 civil service mariners who work for the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.
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