The venerable US Navy hospital ship, USNS Mercy is deploying tomorrow on Operation Pacific Partnership 2010. Her deployment will last until late September during which riders and crew will conduct health and construction missions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste. Mercy’s 500 riders include both military and NGO volunteers, including health workers from InterPlast, International Relief Teams, International Aid, Loloma Foundation, Project HOPE, Rotary International, Shriners, University of California at San Diego Pre-Dental Society, and World Vets. In addition, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Tonga are providing personnel to support the hospital ship’s mission.
Pacific Partnership was born after the US military’s response to the 2004 tsunami. After realizing the capacity of health diplomacy to win friends and allies, US Pacific Fleet decided to follow up Unified Endeavor by sending the Mercy back to the region in 2006. Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth time the humanitarian civic assistance operation to been conducted.
Christopher R. Albon is a political science Ph.D. specializing in armed conflict, public health, human security, and health diplomacy.