Vol. 5 Num 694 Sat. May 13, 2006  

US hospital ship Mercy sets sail for Bangladesh

The US hospital ship Mercy, which acquitted itself admirably after the tsunami in Indonesia, has set sail on a five-month humanitarian assistance mission for four Asia-Pacific states, including Bangladesh.

The Mercy has left San Diego, on April 24, to deploy at the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh and East Timor, according to a report released by the USINFO, Washington.

The 900-foot-long Mercy is carrying a US military medical team, two H-60 helicopters, Navy construction engineers and representatives from the US Public Health Service.

The medical service the Mercy will bring to the region includes basic medical evaluation and treatment, dental and optometry screenings, eyewear distribution, preventive medicine treatment, general and ophthalmology surgery, public health services and even veterinary services.

The Mercy, along with its staffs, will also be carrying not just military personnel but civilians from several non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Admiral Gary Roughead, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said, "I think perhaps the most unique aspect of this mission is that Mercy and her military professionals are being joined by nongovernmental organisations."

In the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Indonesia and other parts of Asia on December 26, 2004, the Mercy was deployed to Aceh, Indonesia, and then Nias Island and treated over 107,000 patients.