Military Sealift Command Hospital Ship USNS Comfort, CP11 Depart Costa Rica


Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) departed Costa Rica Aug. 12 after providing medical, dental and veterinary care, engineering support and participating in subject matter expert exchanges with the country.

Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11) is a collaborative effort among the United States, partner nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working together to provide humanitarian assistance and to build strong partnerships throughout the Caribbean Basin and the Central and South American region.

“The Costa Ricans have been very enthusiastic and engaged with the mission,” said Cmdr. William Scouten, CP11 director of medical services. “Their involvement made it possible for us to see the patients who really needed it most. Working alongside Costa Rican medical professionals, as well as other partner nation personnel and NGOs, we were able to provide much needed assistance to the people of Costa Rica.”

During the 11-day mission stop in Costa Rica, CP11 personnel and Costa Rican volunteers triaged 8,376 patients, bringing the total number of patients seen throughout CP11 to more than 63,047. A majority of patients received medical and dental care at medical sites in Puntarenas and Barranca and an additional 139 patients were brought on board Comfort for surgery.

Capt. William Todd, Comfort director of surgical services, said many life-changing surgeries were performed in Costa Rica, including abdominal and eye surgeries.

“The quality and quantity of surgeries here has been extremely high due to the exceptional job the Caja Costaricense de Seguro Social organization has done with pre-screening patients,” Todd said. “It’s also been a great exchange because we’ve had many of their surgeons working in the operating room with us, making this a well-rounded experience for the patients, doctors and nurses.”

Comfort personnel also had the opportunity to interact with their Costa Rican colleagues during subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE).

“The SMEE in Costa Rica was important because we were able to work alongside our counterparts which will enable us to hit the ground running if we were to return to respond to a disaster,” said Lt. Cmdr. Amy Drayton, director of education and training.

“Here we were able to do simulated emergency medical treatment and helicopter transport simulations with the First Responders. Later our air detachment worked with local authorities on an actual search and rescue, which is exactly why we are on this mission – to build working partnerships,” added Drayton.

Comfort has provided humanitarian assistance to Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Peru during CP11 and will complete its five-month deployment in Haiti.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Source: navy, August 16, 2011;