Friday, August 08, 2008

USS Kearsarge Deploys in Support of Continuing Promise 2008

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amy Kirk, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) along with various embarked units and non-governmental organizations (NGO) departed Norfolk Aug. 6 for a four-month deployment, in support of mission Continuing Promise (CP) 2008 Caribbean Phase.

CP is a collaborative effort between the United States and partner militaries, NGOs and partner-nation support organizations to build strong partnerships that can be called upon in the event of a regional situation requiring cooperative solutions.

Kearsarge's mission is to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian and civic assistance, as well as veterinary, medical, dental and civil engineering support to six partner nations and to send a strong message of United States compassion, support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The ship is scheduled to visit Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.

This mission has been coordinated through Commander, Amphibious Squadron Eight with partner nations in the region and planned hand-in-hand with a variety of other governmental and NGOs to creatively address the level and scope of care required that will be needed to support regional medical needs. A key objective of this deployment is to address regional health service support requirements and promote clinical information sharing across the region.

"We'll be working hand-in-hand with our neighbors on many common interests," said Capt. Fernandez Ponds, CP 2008 mission commander.

"By working together and sharing our knowledge, we can address medical and engineering concerns common to the region, while also demonstrating our commitment to developing cooperative solutions and fostering lasting bonds of friendship."

Embarked Fleet Surgical Team Four will team up with host nation health care providers to offer basic primary health care and education.

"The cooperation between the different nations, non-governmental organizations and host nation citizens in this mission will benefit us greatly," said Cmdr. Dave Damstra, CP medical contingent commander. "Should a disaster ever strike this area, we will be able to build upon the care, clinical information and cooperation we're working on now."

Navy Seabee Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202 and Air Force 5th Civil Engineer Squadron, Prime Base Emergency Engineer Force will join local civil engineers for structure renovations to schools and churches across four locations, along with road and drainage repair.

"By working alongside our partners here, making renovations and repairs and building a better relationship with the nation, we will establish a great bond between our two nations," said Air Force Maj. Thomas DeFazio, CP engineering contingent commander.

CP's mission in Central and South America is part of the Partnership of the Americas initiative. The medical and engineering capabilities this mission brings helps demonstrate the United States' commitment to fostering cooperative partnerships among allies.

"We are very proud to be a part of this mission and focused on not only helping our neighbors, but also learning from them," said Capt. Walter Towns, Kearsarge commanding officer.

Kearsarge's mission exemplifies the United States maritime strategy which emphasizes deploying forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests.

The CP Caribbean Phase is the second of two HCA deployments to the Southern Command area of focus for 2008. The first CP deployment was conducted by USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the Pacific.