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SAN DIEGO - Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) returned to San Diego today, to a welcoming of family and friends, following its support of the humanitarian mission to Southeast Asia, Pacific Partnership 2018.
The ship’s crew, composed of MSC civil service mariners, who operated the ship, and Navy medical and support personnel who staffed and oversaw the ship’s hospital and treated patients, visited countries throughout Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. In addition to the U.S Navy and CIVMARs non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and regional partners that provided maritime security, conducted humanitarian assistance, and strengthened disaster response preparedness.
Mercy provided medical, dental, veterinary, public health services, engineering and disaster response to host countries who invited the ship to visit and provided services to the local populations.
Mercy was joined on the Pacific Partnership mission by MSC expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Fall River (T-EPF 4). Fall River made separate mission stops in Yap, Palau, Borneo-Malaysia, and Thailand, supporting public diplomacy, community outreach, and theater security cooperation initiatives.
“This has been one of those deployments I will never forget,” said Julie Flaherty, Mercy’s civil service navigator. “Pacific Partnership touches so many lives, not just the people who receive our services, but also the crew who interact with and see the people who the mission helps, and who’s mission on the ship ensures the medical teams can provide surgeries and care. It has been an amazing five months, and while I am sorry to see all our good work come to an end, but I am really happy to be back in San Diego and home! I’m ready to be still and stay put for a while.”
Mercy wrapped up its Pacific Partnership mission with a stop in Tokyo, Japan in June. Before returning to San Diego, the ship stopped in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where it participated in a humanitarian response, disaster recovery exercise as part of the multi-national maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific 2018.
“This year’s mission was a success all around,” said Capt. Brian Mershon, Mercy’s civil service master. “I couldn’t be happier with my crew and all their hard work. They are a true group of professionals and it was a pleasure to sail with them on this historic mission.”
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region. Now in its 13th year, the missions have included medical exchanges, veterinary exchanges, and engineering projects while working side by side with partners in Cambodia, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Indonesia, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville Autonomous region, Philippines, Marshall Islands, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.
Pacific Partnership 2018 included more than 800 military and civilian personnel from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan, and is scheduled to make mission stops in Micronesia, South and Southeast Asia from February through June 2018.