USNS Mercy returns from humanitarian mission

SAN DIEGO — The hospital ship USNS Mercy returned to its San Diego home port Friday morning.

The Mercy and its crew of sailors, medical personnel, engineers and representatives of aid organizations left San Diego in May for the Pacific Partnership humanitarian mission, and made stops in Timor-Leste, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Palau and Indonesia.

The participants provided medical and dental care, helped with building projects and worked on disaster response exercises.

The Coronado-based Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 accompanied the Mercy on the 11th annual mission, which started after the destructive Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

This afternoon, Rear Adm. Yancy Lindsey will take the helm of Navy Region Southwest at a change-of-command ceremony aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum.

In succeeding Rear Adm. Mark Rich, Lindsey will gain the informal title of Navy mayor of San Diego. He’ll oversee a six-state region with 11 installations and 83,000 personnel, according to the Navy.

Rich is retiring after a 33-year career. Lindsey was most recently commandant of Naval District Washington, and served as commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado from 2009 to 2012.

People on or around San Diego Bay in the early afternoon might hear a 17- cannon salute during the ceremony. Navy officials said no projectiles will actually be fired, but the cannons will still be loud.

Separately Friday afternoon, Capt. Samuel Pontier will relieve Capt. Daniel Ogden as commanding officer of the Navy Operational Support Center San Diego. NOSC San Diego, based in Scripps Ranch, supports more than 1,600 reservists across 68 reserve units.