Comfort Strengthens Partnership with St. Kitts and Nevis Following Successful Medical Mission
By U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Bobby Siens / Edited by Diálogo staff October 29, 2019
U.S. Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed St. Kitts and Nevis following the completion of the ship’s ninth medical mission in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, October 12.“I want to say thank you to the government of the United States of America and particularly to the armed forces,” said Wendy Phipps, St. Kitts and Nevis minister of State responsible for health. “It’s the first time we’ve had such an extensive visit, with medical intervention being offered, as an effort to extend the bilateral relations that St. Kitts and Nevis continues to enjoy with the United States of America.”
During the six-day mission in Basseterre, more than 800 medical professionals provided care for 3,677 patients at two separate shore-based medical sites and performed 25 surgeries aboard the ship.
“For decades, St. Kitts and Nevis has been a steadfast partner for peace, stability, and democracy, and I thank you all for your continued commitment to these principals,” said Army Major General Rafael Ribas, deputy commander for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs at U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
Additionally, the multinational staff coordinated several subject matter expert exchanges with the St. Kitts and Nevis National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which focused on search a
nd rescue of survivors at sea, diving at a sunken shipwreck, and shipboard firefighting.
“We had Naval Officers from Peru, Argentina, and Brazil in attendance to enrich the exchange of ideas and procedures by providing a variety of techniques and experiences. The challenges that St. Kitts and Nevis is facing is not just preparing for a disaster, but also combatting shipboard fires and dive operations,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander John Rashap, Comfort’s air detachment officer in charge. “All of which resulted in building trust and partnership through teamwork, as well as making St. Kitts and Nevis more prepared to make their citizens and visitors safer.”
The Comfort team is comprised of military and civilian personnel from the U.S. and partner nations, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Peru, as well as several nongovernmental organizations, creating a dynamic team capable of delivering a variety of services.
This marks the first Comfort visit to St. Kitts and Nevis and the seventh to the region since 2007. At each of the upcoming missions, the embarked medical teams will provide care aboard the Comfort and at two land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants.