USA/GUAMUSNS Mercy Arrives in Guam for Pacific Partnership

WASHINGTON — The Mil­i­tary Sealift Command’s hos­pi­tal ship USNS Mer­cy is moored in Guam to bring on mis­sion-sup­port teams, sup­plies and oth­er equip­ment to pre­pare for a five-month human­i­tar­i­an deploy­ment.

The deploy­ment is part of Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2010, the fifth in an annu­al series of U.S. Pacif­ic Fleet human­i­tar­i­an and civic assis­tance endeav­ors. The mis­sion offi­cial­ly kicked off May 1 when the Mer­cy left San Diego.

“We have a lot of part­ners out here,” Navy Capt. Lisa M. Franchet­ti — Mercy’s com­modore and com­man­der for the over­all Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship mis­sion – said yes­ter­day in a “DoD Live” blog­gers round­table. “We have eight part­ner nations, six host nations and 17 [non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions] that will be send­ing vol­un­teers through­out the mis­sion.”

This year’s mis­sion will focus on pro­vid­ing assis­tance ashore in a vari­ety of ways, includ­ing engi­neer­ing projects, med­ical and den­tal care, par­tic­i­pat­ing in sub­ject-mat­ter-expert exchanges and con­duct­ing 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 it will remain on sta­tion for slight­ly more than two weeks. In addi­tion to the cur­rent stop in Guam, the hos­pi­tal ship will re-sup­ply at logis­ti­cal hubs in Sin­ga­pore and in Dar­win, Aus­tralia, dur­ing the deploy­ment.

“I can’t empha­size enough what a part­ner­ship it is,” Franchet­ti said. “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.”

The crew accom­pa­ni­ment aboard Mer­cy this year is not exclu­sive­ly from the Navy. “We have quite a few Air Force and Army per­son­nel, which is very excit­ing,” Franchet­ti said. “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, Franchet­ti said, an addi­tion­al 130 part­ner-nation per­son­nel will join the crew, as well as 580 vol­un­teers from 17 non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions. “The total num­ber of per­son­nel on board will fluc­tu­ate [near] 900, and our max­i­mum num­ber will be right around 1,100,” 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, [dur­ing] every one of the vis­its we will pro­vide pri­ma­ry health and den­tal clin­ics, bio­med­ical repair oppor­tu­ni­ties, pre­ven­tive med­i­cine and vet­eri­nar­i­an care, which is a new thing this year for most of our coun­tries,” Franchet­ti said.

Some ser­vice­mem­bers who are a part of the crew will have the chance to be aboard an Aus­tralian ship pri­or to join­ing with the guid­ed mis­sile frigate USS Crom­melin in Papua New Guinea, Franchet­ti said. In addi­tion, when Mer­cy arrives in Viet­nam and Cam­bo­dia, mil­i­tary per­son­nel from the Japan Mar­itime Self-Defense Force will assist in med­ical train­ing and sub­ject-mat­ter exchanges to pro­vide qual­i­ty med­ical and den­tal health­care.

While in Viet­nam, the Japan­ese 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 [non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers],” Franchet­ti said. “So we are very excit­ed to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work togeth­er in both Viet­nam and Cam­bo­dia.”

The con­cept of Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship evolved from the unprece­dent­ed inter­na­tion­al dis­as­ter response for coun­tries dev­as­tat­ed dur­ing the 2004 Asian 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 offi­cial Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship web­site.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)