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Navy to send floating hospital to Asia

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Navy next month will send one of its two medical ships on a goodwill mission to Southeast Asia.

Sponsored by U.S. Pacific Fleet, 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.

"This mission is about engagement," said Navy Capt. James Morgan, the mission's commander.

Costing about $20 million, the mission will consist of about 1,000 military personnel from all four services who will embark on a four-month deployment to Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

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.

"Pacific Partnership has become a demonstrable example of the 'whole of government' approach to American policy in the Pacific … working with host and partner nations to build partnerships and capacity to ensure that the international community is better prepared to synchronize and function together as a coordinated force when disaster strikes," the Navy said in a statement announcing the mission.

Capt. Morgan said social media outreach will be a top priority on the mission.

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