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Belize Hosts Opening Ceremony for Continuing Promise 2015

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS150411-01
Release Date: 4/11/2015 11:28:00 AM

By MC1(SW) Amy Kirk, Continuing Promise 2015 Public Affairs

BELIZE CITY, Belize (NNS) -- An opening ceremony was held to celebrate the arrival of hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) and its crew as part of Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15)on April 10.

Continuing Promise is a collaborative effort between the United States, partner nations and non-governmental and support organizations to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian and civic assistance, as well as veterinary, medical, dental and civil engineering support to send a strong message of compassion, support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

'On behalf of the over 1,000 crew members aboard Comfort, I would like to thank everyone for welcoming us to Belize,' said Capt. Sam Hancock, CP-15 mission commander. 'We are excited to meet, interact and provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services to the people of Belize while working alongside our Belizean counterparts.'

Belize is Comfort's first stop on its six-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission. Hancock said he hopes the work done over the nine day visit will serve to strengthen the enduring partnership between the United States and Belize.

Deputy Commander, U.S. Southern Command, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, also remarked on the U.S. strong partnership with Belize.

'It is worth noting that this is the second time that USNS Comfort will kick off her tour of the region with a first stop in Belize - highlighting the significance we place on our bilateral relationship,' said Tovo.

Tovo said the military and civilian personnel from the United States and Belize, in addition to environmental health professionals, veterinarians, engineers, and representatives from over 70 non-governmental and international organizations have all come together for one important purpose - to make a difference in the lives of Belize citizens.

'That is what Continuing Promise is all about: working together,' said Tovo. 'The men and women supporting this mission are a great example of the commitment, cooperation, and compassion that's required to meet the challenges that both our nations face.'

The U.S. Ambassador to Belize, Carlos R. Moreno, thanked the host nation's Ministry of Health for its efforts in credentialing the more than 200 doctors and nurses and providing preliminary screenings of 110 surgical candidates. Additionally, he thanked the Belize Ministry of Nation Security for its protection of the many volunteers as well as the Ministry of Education for providing the mission work sites at Hattieville Government School and Independence High School.

Moreno also gave special recognition to the many non-governmental organizations that are supporting the CP-15 mission.

'Outside of the government, we have received fantastic support from NGOs. Latter Day Saints Charities, the Midwest Mission Distribution Center, the Message Program, and Food for the Poor all worked together to donate 330 pallets of medical and humanitarian supplies to help the citizens of Belize,' said Moreno. 'This effort and the cooperation amongst all involved is a testament to the strength of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Belize, which can only be strengthened by this event.'

After Belize, the Comfort will make 10 additional scheduled mission stops in Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama.

This is the seventh CP mission conducted under the guidance of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S.4th Fleet (USNAVSO/C4F). Comfort served as the hospital ship in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show the United States' continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

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