USNS Mercy departs on mission to strengthen ties in Indo-Pacific

SAN DIEGO – The USNS Mercy hospital ship sailed from San Diego Friday morning for an international humanitarian mission in Asia.

Some 800 military and civilian personnel from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Peru and Japan are joining the mission, which will make stops in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

The effort is called the Pacific Partnership. It was conceived after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in an effort to provide disaster relief and medical assistance and strengthen ties between the aid-providing nations and those being assisted in Asia.

“Our staff and team have come together to form a dynamic team of professionals and we are ready to execute this mission and engage with our partners throughout the Indo-Pacific,” said Capt. David Bretz, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 31. “We are excited about forging new friendships and deepening partnerships across the region.”

Medial, dental, civil engineering and veterinary teams will partner with teams in the host nations for civic projects, community health efforts, medical symposiums and disaster-response training. Community relations engagements will also be held in an effort to enhance relationships between the people of the host nations and those who are visiting, according to the Navy.