USNS Burlington Departing July 3 for Continuing Promise Mission in Caribbean

June 28, 2024 6:35 PM
SNS Burlington (T-EPF 10) transits in the Caribbean Sea during UNITAS 23 July 16, 2023. US Navy Photo

USNS Burlington (T-EPF-10) will deploy July 3 and head to the Caribbean and South America for the beginning of the Continuing Promise mission.

Continuing Promise is a humanitarian mission that sees Navy sailors, medical professionals and civilians provide medical care for communities in need, while also building partnerships, a panel of Navy leaders told reporters Friday. The Navy will visit Jamaica, Costa Rica, Honduras, Colombia and Panama.

The mission set for this year’s Continuing Promise exercise will include the medical aide and working to establish relationships with partners, as well as discussions on humanitarian aid and disaster relief, women, peace and security, said Rear Adm. Jim Aiken, commander of US 4th Fleet and Naval Forces Southern Command, during a roundtable.

“We have friends and we have partners, and, really, we enjoy the side-by-side that we have with each and every one of them, and we learn from them, and they learn from us,” Aiken said.

This year, Continuing Promise will not include hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20). Instead, Burlington will act as the hub for the mission due to its transport capabilities. Although the EPFs are being outfitted to be able to handle medical operations, most operations will be done on land, he said.

The Navy may consider Burlington as a lead ship for the Navy’s hybrid fleet, Aiken said, which means the Navy can look at how the EPF functions during the mission.

“So the ETF is really just a hub, a base for operations,” Aiken said. “Going forward, certainly there’ll be some things to learn about, how to best outfit it, how to best resupply it, where it can pull into, you know, those types of things.”

While the Navy does track how many patients are seen, the metrics for the mission’s success are qualitative, he said.

“But at the end of the day, what we’re really evaluating, what we’re really assessing, is the strength of the relationships, and that’s really what’s most important going forward,” he said.

The mission has seen success in previous years, something that Lt. Cmdr. Zachary Smith, Continuing Promise 2024 Mission commander, expects to see this year as well.

“The mission is a symbol of our long-standing commitment to the nations and people of Latin America and the Caribbean, and we’ve delivered on our promises, working hand in hand with our partners to deliver, over the course of the history of mission, more than 600,000 medical treatments, over 7000 surgeries and you know, countless construction projects, holding life projects, community relations events,” he said.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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