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Continuing Promise 2015 Mission Stop in Nicaragua Comes to a Close

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS150528-07
Release Date: 5/28/2015 9:22:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amy Kirk, Continuing Promise 2015 Public Affairs

PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua (NNS) -- Nicaraguan residents and officials bid farewell to personnel from the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) during the Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15) closing ceremony at Instituto Politechnico Heroes y Martires May 25.

The Comfort team treated more than 7,600 patients at medical outreach sites established at Instituto Politechnico Heroes y Martires and Colegio Moravo Juan Amos Comenius May 19-25.

'It has been a privilege to work and train alongside our host nation counterparts and continue building the relationship between our two countries,' said Capt. Sam Hancock, CP-15 mission commander. 'This has been, without a doubt, an extremely rewarding experience for all of us involved in the CP-15 mission.'

Comfort's embarked joint military and non-governmental organization (NGO) volunteers worked side-by-side with partner nation military and civilian professionals to conduct more than 400 dental exams and procedures, more than 1,200 optometry exams and 110 surgeries.

NGO volunteers from Operation Smile, who embarked the ship during the mission stop, performed 63 additional surgeries to include cleft palate and cleft lip procedures.

The CP-15 mission crew conducted subject matter expert exchanges on more than 100 topics with Nicaraguan counterparts. Collaboration efforts included a medical symposium at the Regional Governors Building that focused on diabetes, nutrition and childhood asthma, as well as a Preventive Medicine Health Fair at Colegio Moravo Juan Amos Comenius focusing on oral hygiene and early childhood cavity prevention.

Seabees assigned to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 completed renovations and improvements at Escuela Publica Rigoberto Cabezas and Hospital Nuevo Amanecer, including plumbing repairs, electrical work and reinforcing foundations.

'It was a good chance for us to be around the community and really build relationships with the locals,' said Builder 1st Class James Vossler. 'I really think the school kids and teachers will be happy with the repairs we did at the school and the hospital will be safer with the repairs to the foundation.'

The Comfort crew also participated in two community relations events during the mission stop including painting the emergency room entrance to Hospital Nuevo Amanecer and playing softball with players from community leagues.

The U.S. Fleet Forces Band, 'Uncharted Waters', performed concerts in Bilwi Central Park, Tupai Village and Boom Sirpi Village. The musicians also performed and conducted a musical workshop with 350 students at Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University.

'There is just something about music that truly breaks through all language barriers,' said Musician 1st Class Richard Bruns. 'During the concert in Tupai, a local Miskito Indian tribe performed dances and played songs with us. They also allowed our musicians to play their indigenous instruments made from tortoise shells and cow jaw bones. It was definitely an experience we will never forget.'

Comfort's next mission stop is in Colon, Panama. The CP-15 medical team will establish medical outreach sites at Centro Educativo Porfirio Melendez, Centro Educativo Dr. Augusto Samuel Boyd, and Instituto Benigno Jimenez Garay. In addition, CBMU 202 has planned civic-assistance projects at the Centro Medico Patricia Duncan and Centro Educativo Porfirio Melendez.

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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