The USNS Mercy arrives in Fiji in June. Navy photo
The USNS Mercy arrives in Fiji in June. Navy photo

The hospital ship USNS Mercy is scheduled to return to San Diego Sunday from a four-month deployment in support of Pacific Partnership 2015, the Navy announced Wednesday.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 will also come home with the ship.

The 10th annual humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness mission began in late May and took the vessel to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Personnel provided or took part in healthcare and surgical procedures, community health engagements, engineering projects, expert exchanges and community relations events, along with partners from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and other nations.

The Navy said medical personnel performed nearly 700 surgeries aboard the Mercy, while dentists cared for more than 3,800 patients, and engineers helped complete 10 renovation and construction projects that included school buildings, community centers, medical facilities and a center for disadvantaged youth. The facilities also double as disaster shelters.

Pacific Partnership stemmed from the devastation wrought by the 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of southeast Asia. After providing humanitarian assistance after the disaster, the Mercy returned to the region two years later for the inaugural Pacific Partnership mission.

The mission staff has since expanded to include partner nation militaries and non-governmental organizations working to increase the disaster relief capabilities in the region.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.