Saturday, March 21, 2009

Continuing Promise 2009 Making Preparations to Get Underway

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) will depart Norfolk, Va., April 1 for a four-month deployment to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of focus (AOF) in support of Continuing Promise 2009 (CP09).

Continuing Promise (CP) is an equal partnership mission designed to combine partner nation and U.S. relief capabilities to demonstrate the lasting bonds and shared interest among neighbors.

While in the AOF, Comfort will be under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (NAVSO/4th Fleet), which are the main planning and coordination commands for the Continuing Promise mission.

"Continuing Promise represents our commitment to partnering with a region that is of great importance," said Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, NAVSO/4th Fleet commander.

"The team that has been assembled is diverse and brings together not only multiple U.S. armed forces and interagency representatives, but just as importantly, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and partner nation representatives who bring a wealth of knowledge and resources to the team."

This is the fourth humanitarian and civic assistance mission to the AOF and follows Comfort's 2007 deployment and USS Boxer (LHD 4) and USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Continuing Promise 2008 deployment to the region. In total, more than 169,000 patients have been treated and more than 1,500 surgeries completed during the three deployments.

Embarked aboard Comfort as part of the CP09 team will be partner nation military medical personnel and representatives from various NGOs, the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S interagency organizations, and the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command

CP09 has been coordinated with partner nations in the region and planned hand-in-hand with a variety of other governmental and NGOs. Specific locations for the ship's relief operations include Antigua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama.

As the Navy component command of USSOUTHCOM, NAVSO's mission is to direct U.S. naval forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. Fourth Fleet is the numbered fleet assigned to NAVSO, exercising operational control of assigned forces.