SAN DIEGO, California (AP) — The hospital ship USNS Mercy returned home from Indonesia after treating thousands who survived the tsunami in December and thousands more who survived an earthquake in March.
The floating medical center and 270 crew members docked Wednesday at Naval Station San Diego to the cheers of families waving signs and balloons. The ship left port on Jan. 5.
"If you haven’t cried on this mission, you haven’t been on this mission," said Capt. Mark Llewellyn, repeating what he told his staff several times during the mission.
Arriving in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in February, the Mercy’s advanced treatment facilities filled a desperate need. The tsunami, caused by a December 26 earthquake, killed more than 176,000 people in 11 countries and left about 50,000 missing and hundreds of thousands homeless.
The first 10 days of the mission, the Mercy’s first deployment since the Persian Gulf War more than a decade ago, saw nonstop orthopedic surgeries on injuries that had gone untreated for 11/2 months. By March, the military and civilian medical staff had treated 9,500 survivors.
"We saw a resiliency in those people that was hard to imagine," said Llewellyn, who ran the ship’s 1,000-bed hospital.
Bravo Zulu to the USNS Mercy!