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MSC ships wrap up disaster relief work in Indonesia

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WASHINGTON, (USTCNS) --- Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy and MSC combat stores ships USNS San Jose and USNS Niagara Falls left Nias Island, Indonesia, Saturday after providing humanitarian assistance and medical aid to local residents in the wake of the 8.7 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island March 28. Mercy had been conducting a string of medical aid missions in Southeast Asia following 40 days of tsunami relief work in Banda Aceh when the ship was summoned to help the people of Nias.

Mercy spent 25 days operating off the coast of Nias, airlifting critically injured patients to the ship and sending personnel ashore to work in local hospitals and healthcare clinics. During this time, Mercy’s combined U.S. Navy, NGO Project HOPE and uniformed Public Health Service medical staff performed 19,319 procedures on nearly 6,200 patients both ashore and afloat, as well as performed 123 surgeries aboard ship. Civilian mariners from Mercy, San Jose and Niagara Falls, along with Navy personnel, also participated in community relations projects painting and repairing equipment at area schools, libraries and other facilities.

“Mercy provided healthcare to people in need, trained local hospital staffs, sampled the island’s water supply and tested the structural integrity of local buildings,” said Mercy’s master Capt. Michael R. Leahy, recounting some highlights of the mission. “We were proud to participate in this humanitarian effort and will not forget the lasting friendships we've created with the people of Nias.”

“The people of Western Indonesia will forever be in our hearts and minds,” echoed Capt. Mark Llewellyn, MC, USN, commanding officer of Mercy’s Medical Treatment Facility. “We have seen the courage and determination with which the people of Nias have responded to this tragedy. I am certain that this beautiful area will soon recover and thrive.”

Mercy, about to begin its fifth month of deployment, will conduct an additional humanitarian aid mission in the Western Pacific providing medical and dental care to the region before returning to its San Diego homeport this summer.

MSC operates more than 120 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, chart ocean bottoms, conduct undersea surveillance, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military equipment and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces.

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