Surgeon General of the Navy Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, right, gives remarks during a COVID-19 panel at the 24th International Seapower Symposium (ISS). Hosted by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, ISS provides a forum for dialogue that bolsters maritime security by providing opportunities for international heads of navies and coast guards to collaborate, develop trust, and further maritime training. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Karra Brown/Released)

NEWPORT, Rhode Island - Personnel from Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) New England provided COVID-19 mitigation support to the Naval War College’s (NWC) 24th Annual International Seapower Symposium, from Sept. 14 to 17.

Prior to the actual event, NMRTC New England personnel collaborated with medical and administrative staff from Commander Naval Operations, Naval War College, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic, Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center, and Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, to develop, test, and execute a plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

NMRTC New England staff and the augmented medical team held weekly meetings with stake-holders, developed frameworks, executed table-top exercises, supported subject matter experts, provided COVID-19 collection and testing, and maintained around-the-clock medical and administrative support throughout the event.

This particular event brought together more than 140 delegates, including U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and international heads of navies and coast guards from more than 130 nations. This year’s theme was “strength in unity,” a theme the NMRTC New England planners and medical staff emulated.

Cmdr. Christopher Young, the officer-in-charge of the Newport Health Clinic said he understood the importance for maritime scholars to gather and collaborate together in person. “It’s essential that we have face-to-face interactions with our allies in order to strengthen relationships in support of maintaining freedom of the seas,” said Young. “But it’s imperative that we do so safely. The mission to execute this evolution safely was made possible by our team’s extensive plan which was developed in coordination with many naval partners,” he said.

The overall plan included contingencies to prevent COVID-19 coming into the U.S. by requiring full vaccination, pre-travel testing, testing upon arrival and during the event, and testing again before returning home. The team also recommended several strategies to prevent spread throughout the event. Furthermore, the team monitored the visitors and provided care and response whenever needed. Due to the diligent planning, teamwork, and execution of this plan, only one positive COVID-19 case arose and that member was quickly isolated and cared for until they were ready to return home.

Capt. Gordon Blighton, commanding officer of NMRTC New England, awarded the team the humanitarian service medal for their superior contribution and positive impact that had a direct and immediate on-site effect which significantly influenced the mitigation and spread of COVID-19.

“I could not be more proud to watch the planning and execution for this event come together so seamlessly,” Blighton said. “It is because of your dedication to our mission, and our ability to remain a flexible ready force that we are able to exceed expectations and foster a safe learning environment for all participants,” he added.

NMRTC New England’s approximately 24,000 enrollees and 6,900 active duty students and operational forces in the Northeast Region.


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