Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
For more information, contact:
Laura Seal (202) 685-5055
September 15, 2010
USNS Mercy returns following humanitarian mission in Southeast Asia
Sixty-three civil service mariners, and 277 Navy medical personnel aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy returned to San Diego Sept. 21 after steaming more than 24,000 miles to Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste as the lead vessel for Pacific Partnership 2010, a five-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission that resulted in medical treatment for more than 100,000 people. Many of the ship's mission personnel - as many as about 1,000 at the height of the mission - have already returned home.
The 894-foot Mercy, one of two U.S. Navy hospital ships, is operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command. MSC's civil service mariners were responsible for Mercy's operation and navigation. In addition, since the ship was too large for pierside visits, mariners operated small boats to transport patients between ship and shore.
Doctors and nurses from the ship's Navy-led medical treatment facility worked with medical professionals from numerous governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations and the host nations to provide medical care, including immunizations, general and specialty surgeries, dental care and vision services.
As part of the medical outreach effort, which took place both ashore and aboard the ship, Mercy's team treated 103,242 people, distributed more than 58,000 pairs of eyeglasses and sunglasses, and provided dental care for more than 12,000 patients. In addition, the Mercy team conducted more than 24,000 hours of information exchanges in the four countries visited on topics including first aid, nursing, cardiology, orthopedics, nutrition, disaster response, water and food safety and public health promotion. The team also participated in 62 community service projects ashore, the majority at schools and orphanages.
"The hospital ship delivers a message of hope to the entire world," said Joseph Watts, Mercy's chief engineer - a civil service mariner who has been sailing with MSC for 29 years and who has led the engineering department on Mercy in every mission since the ship deployed to Indonesia for tsunami relief in 2005. "There are 14 mariners currently on the ship who are also doing their fourth humanitarian missions since the tsunami. Extra sacrifices are made on this ship, but there's a higher level of pride."
Pacific Partnership 2010 is a U.S. Pacific Fleet mission led by three different element commanders: civilian Capt. David Bradshaw, Mercy's civil service master; Navy Capt. Lisa Franchetti, commander for the overall Pacific Partnership mission and commodore of Destroyer Squadron 21; and Navy Capt. Jeffery Paulson, commander of the medical treatment facility responsible for providing care aboard Mercy and ashore.
While Mercy concluded its operations in Dili, Timor-Leste, Aug. 24, two other Pacific Partnership 2010 visits were made to Palau and Papua New Guinea by U.S. and Royal Australian navy ships. Pacific Partnership 2010 officially ended in mid-September.
Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military equipment and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces.
Return to 2010 Press Release archive...