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PACIFIC OCEAN - The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations June 4 in support of Pacific Partnership 2015.
Mercy, from Naval Base San Diego, California, is currently serving as the primary platform for Pacific Partnership 2015. The secondary platform for the mission is the Military Sealift Command joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3).
"Pacific Partnership provides humanitarian and civic action programs that strive to improve critical infrastructure, support host nation health, education and service programs, and improve disaster response preparedness, all the while enhancing relations with numerous partners in the region," said Capt. Christopher Engdahl, mission commander for PP15 and commodore of the Everett, Washington-based Destroyer Squadron 9.
Mercy will visit Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Vietnam and will conduct medical health exchanges, engineering engagements, civil military assistance, and community relations events in coordination with partner and host nations.
Pacific Partnership began in response to one of the world's most catastrophic natural disasters, the December 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Southeast Asia. Along with other nations, the United States responded to the tragedy, deploying U.S. Navy assets, including Mercy, which later returned to the region in 2006 for the first Pacific Partnership mission.
Now in its tenth iteration, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.
"We're operating in a region which is all too familiar with the devastation a natural disaster brings. Pacific Partnership helps us work together in peacetime, so when disaster strikes, we're ready to respond," said Engdahl.
The previous ten Pacific Partnership missions have provided medical care to approximately 270,000 patients and veterinary services to more than 38,000 animals.
Additionally, the missions provide critical infrastructure development to host nations through the completion of more than 180 engineering projects.
Pacific Partnership 2015 supporting partners include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Canada, Timor Leste, Fiji, and France. Non-governmental organizations also participating are Project Hope, Operation Smile, Latter Day Saints Charities, University of California San Diego, University of Virginia, University of Hawaii, Project Handclasp, and World Vets.
Mercy is a converted San Clemente-class supertanker with a length of 894 feet. In its deployed state, the hospital ship carries up to 1,215 medical personnel and provides full hospital capabilities and services, including surgery, radiology, optometry, dermatology, physical therapy, dialysis, a pharmacy, blood bank, and dental. The Mercy's primary mission is to provide rapid, flexible and mobile acute medical and surgical services to support Marine Corps, Army and Air Force units deployed ashore, and naval amphibious task forces and battle forces afloat.