San Diego-based hospital ship makes first stop in Pacific Partnership mission

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The San Diego-based hospital ship USNS Mercy Wednesday made the first stop on the Pacific Partnership mission, arriving in the Southeast Asian island nation of Timor Leste.

Personnel aboard the Mercy, which left San Diego May 11, will work with civilian leadership in the capital of Dili and the country’s defense forces in a disaster relief symposium, provide health-care assistance, expert exchanges in various subjects, and civil engineering and community relations projects, according to the Navy.

The annual four-month voyage brings together Navy experts and representatives of numerous charitable and aid organizations to provide surgery, dentistry, prenatal and postnatal care, women’s health care, blood bank administration, biomedical repair, children’s health, nutrition, industrial hygiene, infection control and veterinary services.

"This is why I joined the Navy — to travel, to see the world, to experience new cultures," said Lt. j.g. Danielle Delacruz, a pediatric nurse aboard Mercy. "Getting to work alongside the caregivers in Timor Leste, and understanding how they work and being able to show them how we do things is such a great opportunity for growth, for them and for us.”

After Timor Leste, the Mercy is scheduled to visit the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The 11-year-old Pacific Partnership grew out of the disaster response to the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

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