By Sarah Burford, Military Sealift Command Pacific
SAN DIEGO -- The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy returned here July 21, following its support of Pacific Partnership 2018.
The ship’s crew is composed of MSC civil service mariners who operated the ship, and Navy medical and support personnel who staffed and oversaw the ship’s hospital and treated patients. This year’s iteration of the annual humanitarian mission included stops throughout Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Pacific Partnership is the largest multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The Navy and civilian sailors were joined by personnel from nongovernmental organizations and regional partners at the various mission stops.
Mercy provided medical, dental, veterinary, public health services, engineering and disaster response to host countries who invited the ship to visit and provided services to the local populations.
Mercy was joined on the Pacific Partnership mission by the MSC expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Fall River. The Fall River made separate mission stops in Yap, Palau, Malaysian Borneo and Thailand, supporting public diplomacy, community outreach, and theater security cooperation initiatives.
“This has been one of those deployments I will never forget,” said Julie Flaherty, Mercy’s civil service navigator. “Pacific Partnership touches so many lives, not just the people who receive our services.
“It has been an amazing five months,” she added, and while I am sorry to see all our good work come to an end, I am really happy to be back in San Diego and home. I’m ready to be still and stay put for a while.”
Mercy wrapped up its Pacific Partnership mission with a stop in Tokyo in June. Before returning to San Diego, the ship stopped in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where it participated in a humanitarian response and disaster recovery exercise as part of the multinational maritime exercise Rim of the Pacific 2018.
“This year’s mission was a success all around,” said Capt. Brian Mershon, Mercy’s civil service master. “I couldn’t be happier with my crew and all their hard work. They are a true group of professionals and it was a pleasure to sail with them on this historic mission.”
Now in its 13th year, Pacific Partnership 2018 included more than 800 military and civilian personnel from the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United Kingdom.