SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Naval hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) will deploy from San Diego May 1, kicking off Pacific Partnership 2010.
The fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors, Pacific Partnership 2010 is aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host nations and partner nations.
Pacific Partnership 2010's Mission Commander is Capt. Lisa Franchetti, who will ensure the collaboration and teamwork of the many government and non-governmental agencies who make up the mission this year.
"This deployment offers an incredible opportunity to continue to build the relationships and capabilities that will be essential in responding to a real-world disaster in the region," said Franchetti. "My team is truly looking forward to working with our host nation, partner nations, State Department, other services and our non-governmental organization (NGO) partners to create a mission that effectively brings people together and provides many opportunities to share knowledge and experiences."
The deployment, which is scheduled to take place through late September, is designed to enhance relationships through medical, dental and engineering outreach projects that reinforce the mutually supporting roles between participants.
"When we take our Navy Medicine capabilities and combine them with the capabilities and knowledge of our host nations, partner nations and NGO partners, we exponentially increase our ability to provide high caliber services to the communities we visit," said Capt. Jeffery Paulson, commanding officer of Mercy's shipboard hospital. "Ultimately, we will augment the host nation medical services already in place and engage in subject matter expert exchanges, sharing both experience and training."
Mercy, as the lead vessel, is scheduled to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The medical treatment facility or hospital includes multiple operating rooms, sophisticated X-ray capabilities and more than 500 volunteer and military staff.
Two additional visits will be made in Palau and Papua New Guinea by other Navy and partner nation ships as part of Pacific Partnership 2010.
"In this last week before departure our days are incredibly fast paced as we're conducting major onloads of stores and medical supplies and also running through training and fire drills to ensure that we're safe for sailing," said Military Sealift Command Capt. David Bradshaw, Mercy's civil service master who has overall responsibility for the ship and the safety of all of its passengers. "But despite the intense workload, energy levels are high. Everyone on the crew I have talked to is really looking forward to this mission."
Mercy is one of two U.S. Navy hospital ships and is crewed by 66 civil service mariners led by Bradshaw working for the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command who navigate the ship to each mission stop, run the ship's engineering plant and transport patients and mission personnel between ship and shore in small boats.
"We've been preparing and planning for this mission since last fall," said Franchetti. "It's a great feeling to know that within a few days we will be embarking on this exciting deployment, bringing us one day closer to our first host nation visit."
Pacific Partnership conducts humanitarian and civic assistance by working with and through host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. government agencies, many whose representatives will be departing with Mercy. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, Pacific Partnership also provides valuable experiences to learn from host nation military and civilian experts. This experience helps ensure the U.S. military is able to rapidly respond in support of emergency relief efforts in the future.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.