In this file photo, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), lead vessel for Pacific Partnership 2012, transits through the Pacific Ocean, May 18. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen)

VINH, Vietnam - Military Sealift Command's hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious ship JS Oosumi (LST 4001) arrived in Vinh, Vietnam, in Nghe An province to begin the humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission known as Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12), July 10.

Both vessels are carrying complements of military and civilian medical, dental, veterinary and engineering personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, and the United States; and Non Government Organizations (NGOs) including Compassion Flower, Global Grins, Latter Day Saints Charities, Project Handclasp, Project Hope, University of Hawaii Schools of Nursing and Engineering, University of California San Diego Pre-Dental Society, Vietnam Medical Assistance Program, Vietnam's Women's Union, and World Vets. The mission's motto for 2012 is "preparing in calm to respond in crisis."

"We are fortunate to again be invited by Vietnam to partner for a fourth time on this humanitarian and civic partnership, and I look forward to what we will learn from each other over the next 15 days," said Capt. James Morgan, mission commander for PP12. "This is another tremendous opportunity for our nations to come together as a team and work toward preparing for peoples' needs when a natural disaster will strike."

"We have been working closely with the Vietnamese government and the U.S. embassy to ensure our work with the government and people of Vietnam is a success," said Lt. Joseph Nutting, officer-in-charge, PP12 Vietnam advance work team. "From building medical clinics and providing health services, to arranging subject matter expert engagements and hosting leaders from multiple nations, the work we are going to do in Vietnam is another example of how a group of diverse nations work together."

To date, the PP12 team has already visited Indonesia and the Philippines, completing over 10 medical civil action programs that triaged over 24,600 patients, five biomedical equipment technician exchanges resulting in 174 equipment repairs, 22 veterinarian civil action programs with 4,600 animal encounters, eight civic engineering civil action programs resulting in new clinics and school rooms, 30 major subject matter expert engagements, 43 band performances and over 50 multiple community service events having impacted tens of thousands of adults, children and animals.

This is the fourth visit of the USNS Mercy to various parts of Vietnam as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-sponsored Pacific Partnership mission. In 2007, the USS Peleliu docked in Danang, marking the first U.S. vessel to have supported Pacific Partnership in Vietnam. In 2008, the Pacific Partnership team visited Nha Trang, marking the first time since 1975 a U.S. military humanitarian civic assistance mission had been permitted to perform surgeries and band performances in Vietnam. The mission returned to Quy Nhon of Bin Dinh province in 2010.

Immediately following the December 2004 tsunami that struck Oceania and the Indian Ocean basin, the U.S. hospital ship USNS Mercy was deployed to support international relief efforts as part of Operation Unified Assistance. The crew's hard work on behalf of the people of Indonesia is the genesis of the Pacific Partnership mission.

Now in the seventh year, Pacific Partnership is aimed at strengthening regional relationships with Southeast Asian and Oceania nations that might be called upon to respond to natural or humanitarian disasters.

For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.