US hospital ship makes port call in Vietnam for humanitarian campaign

By Xuan Ngoc   May 17, 2018 | 11:02 pm PT
US hospital ship makes port call in Vietnam for humanitarian campaign
The world's largest USNS Mercy hospital ship docks in Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Ngoc
The U.S. navy crew will join search and rescue drills, besides medical examination and treatment sessions.

A U.S. navy hospital ship arrived at Nha Trang Bay in central Vietnam on Thursday for a two-week visit as part of the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drill in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The USNS Mercy (T-AH 19)'s mission, known as Pacific Partnership 2018 (PP18), is scheduled to wrap up on June 2.

Captain David Bretz, PP18 commander, said more than 800 military and civilian officers from Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Peru, the U.K., the U.S. and Vietnam are participating in this year’s program which will involve drills for natural and man-made disasters such as storms and fires.

The USNS Mercy crew will work along with Vietnamese officers to carry out medical examination and treatment for local people, exchange medical expertise, refurbish schools, among other community projects. They are also scheduled to join a search and medical rescue exercise on May 24.

This is the ninth time the Pacific Partnership was held in Vietnam and the second consecutive time in Khanh Hoa Province. During the first visit in 2008, the U.S. crew performed free surgeries for 350 children with cleft lip and cleft palate in south central provinces.

In service since 1986, the USNS Mercy is the biggest hospital ship in the U.S. Navy with a total capacity of 1,000 beds. The ship is nearly 272 meters (892 feet) long and can reach a maximum speed of 17.5 nautical miles per hour.

Last March, the U.S. sent the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson for a historical visit in Da Nang, the first of its kind since the end of the Vietnam War.

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