WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In the Southeast Pacific, the Military Sealift Command's hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and her crew are moored in Guam as they bring on additional mission support teams, supplies, and other equipment to further prepare for their five-month Pacific Partnership 2010 deployment.
The hospital ship will re-supply at two other logistical hubs during the deployment, Singapore and Darwin, Australia. Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in an annual series of U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors, and officially kicked off a five-month deployment on May 1, 2010 when Mercy departed San Diego for Southeast-Asia.
"We have a lot of partners out here. We have eight partner nations, six host nations and 17 NGOs that will be sending volunteers throughout the mission," said U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander for the overall Pacific Partnership mission.
This year's mission will focus on providing assistance ashore with a variety of engineering, medical, dental, subject matter expert exchanges, and logistic civic action programs to provide humanitarian and civic assistance to Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Palau and Papua New Guinea. Mercy is expected to arrive in Vietnam on May 31, and will remain on station for slightly more than two weeks.
"I can't emphasize enough what a partnership it is, that's why they call it Pacific Partnership. [It] really is not purely a military mission in any sense of the word, and we really couldn't do the mission without the support of all our partners," said the commodore.
The crew accompaniment aboard Mercy this year is drawn from all services, and not exclusively from the U.S. Navy.
"We have quite a few Air Force and Army personnel, which is very exciting," added Franchetti. "They come from all over the U.S., there is a request that goes out to join the mission, and with some commands it is a very competitive process."
In addition to the military support during the deployment, the Commodore added that an additional 130 partner-nation personnel will join the crew, as well as 580 volunteers from 17 non-governmental organizations.
"The total number of personnel on board will fluctuate [near] 900 and our maximum number will be right around 1100," she added.
For this mission, Mercy has been outfitted with humanitarian and civic assistance equipment, supplies and a staff augmented with a robust multi-specialized team of preventive medicine personnel, veterinarians, medical and dental teams and engineering personnel.
"In addition to [performing] surgeries aboard the Mercy, everyone of the visits we will provide primary health and dental clinics, biomedical repair opportunities, preventative medicine and veterinarian care, which is a new thing this year for most of our countries," the commodore added.
Franchetti added that some service members who are a part of her crew will have the chance to cross deck aboard an Australian ship prior to joining with the guided missile frigate USS Crommelin in Papua New Guinea. In addition, when Mercy arrives in Vietnam and Cambodia, military personnel from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) will assist in medical training and subject-matter exchanges to provide quality medical and dental health care. While in Vietnam, the JMSDF dock landing ship JDS Kunisaki will provide additional medical support.
"We will have a medical team made up of approximately 40 medical personnel from the Japanese Self Defense Forces, as well as three different Japanese NCOs, so we are very excited to have the opportunity to work together in both Vietnam and Cambodia," said the Franchetti.
The concept of Pacific Partnership evolved from the unprecedented international disaster response for countries devastated during the 2004 Asia tsunami. Follow-up missions recognized the benefits derived from cooperation between national governments, militaries, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations during disaster relief operations, as well as in civic assistance projects, according to the Pacific Partnership official website.
For more news from Pacific Partnership visit www.navy.mil/local/pacificpartnership.