Ships taking part in “Pacific Partnership” deploy
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The hospital ship USNS Mercy and guided-missile
frigate USS Vandegrift departed Naval Station San Diego Tuesday on separate
deployments to the Pacific, where the Pentagon is increasing its focus.
The USNS Mercy is scheduled to take part in “Pacific Partnership,” in
which it will make humanitarian stops in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines
and Vietnam over the next four months. Crew members on the Mercy will provide
medical, dental and veterinary care in the host nations, along with help with
civil engineering projects.
Pacific Partnership also includes personnel from the Army, Air Force and
Marine Corps; U.S. State and Justice departments, Agency for International
Development and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Japan will contribute a landing ship, helicopters, a medical team and
representatives from the country's volunteer organizations. Australia, Canada,
Chile, France, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the
Philippines, Singapore and Thailand also will deploy personnel in support of
Other organizations scheduled to take part include the UC San Diego Pre-
Dental Society, a student-run free dental clinic; Project Hope, which launched
the first civilian hospital ship, LDS Charities; and the University of Hawaii.
The USS Vandegrift will head to the western Pacific and Indian Ocean for
training exercises over the next six months with forces from Bangladesh,
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand,
according to the Navy.
Nerlys Velasquez told NBC7/39 her husband was leaving on the frigate for
his fourth deployment.
“It's really hard,” Velasquez said. “I see a lot of people with their
first deployment, they're really sad, like, new wife, new baby, it's sad.”
The deployment comes at a time when the Obama administration is paying
more attention to Asia and, in conjunction with Asian allies, expanding its
footprint to counterbalance what American defense officials long have described
as a rising, more assertive China.