A US naval hospital ship left San Diego Saturday on a humanitarian mission, offering free medical check-ups in several Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam.
The USNS Mercy is expected to arrive at Vietnam's central coastal town of Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh Province, later this month and stay for around two weeks, as part of its "Pacific Partnership".
Mercy is one of two US Navy hospital ships. It has multiple operating rooms, sophisticated X-ray capabilities and more than 500 volunteer and military staff.
Medical staff from the boat, their Vietnamese counterparts and members of local NGOs will offer operations aboard and set up mobile check-up rooms, especially for dental conditions.
The ship will help launch some projects as requested by the Binh Dinh administration wherein the boat's staff will share their experience and knowledge with local doctors.
Captain Lisa Franchetti said some of her crew members had visited Binh Dinh several times since late 2009 to prepare for the coming visit. They have compiled a list of patients in need of surgery, she said.
The ship's crew will also hold talks with local authorities about ways to increase the latter's ability to deal with natural disasters.
Some of her crew members are Vietnamese American, Captain Franchetti said.
The Mercy is scheduled to visit Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Palau before returning sometime in late September, according to the US Navy's Third Fleet.