Continuing Promise 2011 Sets Sail in March
By Dialogo March 17, 2011
The USNS Comfort hospital ship set sail on 17 March from its home in Baltimore, Maryland and head to nine Latin American countries to engage in humanitarian, medical and engineering civic-assistance projects in support of the United States Southern Command’ s Humanitarian Mission, Continuing Promise (CP) 2011.
This will be the fifth year and sixth ship to participate in the annual CP missions, bringing mobile and rapidly responsive medical capabilities to local populations in each country visited, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Peru this year.
The USNS Comfort hospital ship has 1,000 beds, 12 fully-equipped operating theaters, radiological services, a medical laboratory, pharmacy, optometry lab, CAT scan and two oxygen producing plants to treat up to 200 patients per day. In addition to the medical capabilities, the ship can also transport engineering equipment for construction projects in the region.
Every year the CP mission provides medical assistance for about 100,000 patients of which about 15 percent are surgeries. Continuing Promise 2011 was organized between the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, U.S. governmental organizations, regional health ministries, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and this year’s participating countries in order to accommodate each country’s requests and also design it as a valuable training mission.
The USNS Comfort will arrive first in Jamaica, on 13 April, and spend approximately 10-12 days in each of the nine countries. The crew will interact with local health groups, medical students and non-governmental organizations to fix medical equipment, host public health training classes, exchange information on tropical diseases from local experts, offer veterinary services and provide medical assistance. In addition to the military crew, members from Canada, Brazil and the Netherlands will also participate in CP ’11.