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U.S. Navy to send hospital ship to Asia


09:27, April 18, 2012

WASHINGTON, April 17 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Navy is sending the USNS Mercy, one of its two medical ships, on a goodwill mission to Southeast Asia next month, seeking to build partnership with regional militaries.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship will leave its San Diego homeport on May 1, to begin Pacific Partnership 2012 to strengthen regional relationships in Southeast Asia and Oceana, Navy Capt. James Morgan said Tuesday at a Pentagon briefing.

The Pacific Partnership exercise is in its seventh year, and this year will visit Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Cambodia to provide medical, dental and veterinary care. The ship will spend 14 days at each port. It is the largest annual humanitarian civic assistance mission the United States sponsors in the Asia-Pacific region.

The USNS Mercy will be joined by a Japanese landing ship tank carrying a complete medical team, helicopters and Japanese humanitarian volunteers during stops in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Teams from Australia, Canada, Chile, France, South Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Thailand also will participate in the mission.

Representatives from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Justice Department also will participate.

In addition to the medical aspect of the mission, Pacific Partnership includes engineering projects as well as conferences and classes with local officials. The ship is expected to return to San Diego in mid-September.

The United States is focusing its military resources to the Asia Pacific region in face of budget cuts, and the Pentagon has made missions in the area a priority.


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