Hospital ship returns to San Diego
USNS Mercy arrives after 5-month mission
Last Updated: 253 days ago
SAN DIEGO -
The hospital ship USNS Mercy returned to its San Diego homeport Friday following a nearly 5-month-long humanitarian mission.
The Mercy took part in the seventh annual Pacific Partnership, in which about 1,200 service members and civilians provided medical service to citizens of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Navy said personnel treated more than 49,000 people at temporary on-shore medical clinics, conducted at least 900 surgeries aboard ship and took care of more than 7,000 livestock or domestic animals.
Participants also built or renovated 13 buildings, planned for future disaster responses and took part in around 100 community service projects and cultural exchanges.
"It's through increased understanding and trust that we will all work better and more efficiently together -- not if, but when -- a natural disaster strikes," said Capt. Jim Morgan, the mission commander.
"Their stories are inspiring and the best takeaway are the smiles you get from them, even when there is a language barrier, those smiles are the thank you I will never forget," said Ravi Singh with Project HOPE, one of 28 non-government agencies that made the trip.
"What was new this time was that we brought medical staff from these countries on board and worked side-by-side with them on their own patients so that they could see and learn how to do the procedures; it was priceless," said Cmdr. Matt Provencher, the director of surgery for the deployment.
The USNS Mercy left San Diego on May 3, carrying personnel from the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, U.S. State and Justice departments, Agency for International Development and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Other participating organizations included the UC San Diego Pre-Dental Society, a student-run free dental clinic; Project Hope, which launched the first civilian hospital ship; LDS Charities; and the University of Hawaii.
A helicopter detachment that sailed with the vessel flew to its base at Naval Air Station North Island Friday.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.