USNS Mercy
The USNS Mercy is a converted San Clemente-class supertanker with a length of 894 feet. Photo by Chris Stone

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy is scheduled to depart San Diego on Friday for a disaster preparedness mission in the Indo-Pacific region.

The 13th annual Pacific Partnership mission will involve more than 800 military and civilian personnel from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Peru and Japan.

Accompanying the Mercy will be the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Fall River.

“Our staff and team have come together to form a dynamic team of professionals and we are ready to execute this mission and engage with our partners throughout the Indo-Pacific,” said Capt. David Bretz, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 31, whose staff will be on the Mercy. “We are excited about forging new friendships and deepening partnerships across the region.”

The Mercy is scheduled to make stops in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan. Medical, dental, civil-engineering and veterinary teams will partner with each host nation to conduct civic-action projects, community health exchanges, medical symposiums and disaster response training activities.

The Pacific Partnership began in response to the tsunami that devastated parts of South and Southeast Asia in December 2004.

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