Friday, May 26, 2006
World's biggest hospital ship arrives in Zamboanga for humanitarian and civic aid
The U.S. Naval hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived off the coast of Zamboanga City on May 25 to provide humanitarian and civic assistance to the people of Zamboanga, Jolo, and Tawi Tawi in the southern Philippines.
This mission reflects longstanding ties between the United States and the Philippines, as well as our continued commitment to work together to address mutual problems and concerns.
“The deployment of USNS Mercy to Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific exemplifies the United States commitment to working together with our friends, partners, and the regional community,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “By deploying the Mercy, we are training our medical crew in order to better prepare them to respond in times of disaster relief.”
The Mercy’s mission is being carried out in conjunction with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and in close coordination and partnership with local medical care professionals. Volunteers from the U.S. Public Health Service, Aloha Medical Mission, Project Hope, and the University of California at San Diego Pre-Dental Society joined Mercy in Manila, along with a contingent of medical specialists from the U.S. military and Canadian military. Medical personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines embarked the ship for the Philippine portion of the deployment, providing focused medical care in partnership with their American counterparts. Additionally, the crew onboard Mercy is partnering with assistance organizations who are working ashore such as ACDI/VOCA, Sahaya Foundation, Save the Children, and the Philippine Red Cross.
A number of U.S. and Philippine government, military, and civilian agencies have been involved in planning the myriad details that go into this month-long mission of medical, dental, and civic action programs to provide focused humanitarian assistance to the people of the Philippines.
For this deployment, Mercy has been configured with special medical equipment and a robust multi-specialized medical team of uniformed and civilian health care providers to provide a range of services ashore as well as on board the ship. The San Diego-homeported ship can support various services such as casualty reception, optometry screenings, eyewear distribution, physical therapy, burn care, radiological and laboratory services, dermatology, urology, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, ophthalmologic surgery, plastic surgery, basic medical evaluation and treatment, preventative medicine treatment, dental screenings and treatment, immunizations, public health training and assessment, vector control and veterinary services.
In addition, the 894-foot-long ship has embarked a small team of Sailors from the Naval Construction Force (known as the Seabees) to perform repair and minor construction projects in the host counties. Some of these construction projects can directly improve medical and sanitary situations. The U.S. Navy Show Band is also deployed aboard the ship, and will be performing in select locations in Zamboanga, Jolo, and Tawi Tawi.
USNS Mercy is uniquely capable of supporting medical and humanitarian assistance needs and can rapidly respond to a range of situations on short notice. Last year, Mercy deployed in response to the December 2004 tsunami that struck Southeast Asia. That deployment resulted in the treatment of more than 107,000 patients, including 466 surgeries, distribution of 11,555 pairs of eyeglasses and performance of more than 6,900 dental procedures in Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea. (PRESS RELEASE)