U.S. Navy To Provide Free Medical Aid Across the Asia-Pacific

Washington – The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy will tour the Pacific to provide free medical and dental care to communities in need, Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced at an April 18 Pentagon press briefing.

Pace said Mercy will leave its home port in San Diego for the Philippines on April 24, the first stop on the ship’s five-month deployment to several locations across the western Pacific and Southeast Asia.

The U.S. crew will provide medical and dental assistance to area residents in coordination with host governments and local relief organizations.   

“This is a direct result of lessons learned last year during tsunami relief operations,” said Pace, referring to the effectiveness of working with area nongovernmental assistance agencies to provide needed services.  

In January 2005, Mercy was dispatched to Southeast Asia where it played a significant role in America’s humanitarian response to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.  The U.S. Pacific Fleet reports that Mercy’s crew performed more than 19,000 medical procedures and treated more than 9,500 patients in Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea following that disaster.  (See related article.)

For this deployment, the Mercy will be configured with special equipment and a multi-specialist medical team to provide a wide range of medical services both aboard the ship and on shore.

“We're looking forward to just one more opportunity for the U.S. military, teaming with others, to be able to help folks in need,“ said Pace.

For more information, see Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees.