The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy departed Naval Base San Diego on Tuesday on a humanitarian mission to the western Pacific Ocean.
The floating 1,000-bed hospital will take part in the 19th Pacific Partnership exercise and make stops in the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Navy experts in engineering, medicine and disaster response will partner with each country to conduct civic projects, community health exchanges, medical symposiums, and disaster response training activities.
The Pacific Partnership, which began in response to the deadly 2004 tsunami, is the largest annual multilateral disaster response preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The Pacific Partnership mission teams work collectively each year with host and partner nations to strengthen existing regional interoperability, and increase disaster-response capacity,” said Rear Adm. Mark A. Melson.
“I am honored to be part of this year’s mission because this annual mission helps increase security and stability in the region, while fostering new and enduring friendships in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
The partnership emphasizes U.S. commitment to the region amid China’s efforts to claim numerous Pacific islands as its territory.