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Hospital ship Mercy earns humanitarian award

Mar. 31, 2013 - 09:35AM   |  
The hospital ship Mercy recently earned a humanitarian honor for a decade of aid efforts around the globe. Here, it sits off the coast of the Philippines last July during Pacific Partnership 2012.
The hospital ship Mercy recently earned a humanitarian honor for a decade of aid efforts around the globe. Here, it sits off the coast of the Philippines last July during Pacific Partnership 2012. (Kristopher Radder / Navy)
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A national peacemaking organization gave a big shoutout to the hospital ship Mercy for its humanitarian work over the past decade. The Mercy received the 2013 National Peacemaker Award from the National Conflict Resolution Center on March 14.

The San Diego-based ship was recognized “for building diplomatic relationships around the world by providing humanitarian aid and disaster assistance,” according to the center, which was established in 1983 and is internationally recognized for its work in mediation and conflict resolution.

Capt. (Dr.) Timothy Hinman, Mercy's commander, received the glass-etched award during the March 14 ceremony.

The center's selection committee found the Mercy's work “particularly inspirational,” said Lisa Cole-Jones, the center's fund development program manager. “The amount of humanitarian aid that everybody on the ship provides — really as a team — they really reach out around the world,” she said. “That's why we decided to recognize the ship.”

This year marks the 25th award — and the first time the center has recognized an entity, rather than an individual, with the national honor, Cole-Jones said.

“When you go on the Mercy's [official] website, you don't see a lot of awards or recognition,” Cole-Jones said. “So we were really excited that they were so excited to hear about it.”

In early 2005, the Navy sent Mercy to help in Southeast Asia after a devastating tsunami struck the region, including Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. The ship's medical teams treated more than 107,000 patients and performed 466 surgeries and 6,900 dental procedures.

The following year, Mercy again deployed to assist in the region, still recovering from the damage. Medical and support personnel treated more than 60,000 people and performed 1,083 surgeries aboard the ship and ashore during the five-month deployment.

In 2008, and again in 2010 and 2012, the U.S. Pacific Fleet sent Mercy overseas as part of the now-annual Pacific Partnership mission, which is focused on humanitarian and civic assistance and disaster relief, including community service projects. Nongovernmental groups such as medical and dental school groups, as well as Navy Seabees, Marines and other military personnel, have joined the 894-foot converted supertanker on the deployments to the Southeast and South Pacific regions.

The nonprofit organization has recognized several military members in recent years for their work. Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Mike Lehnert received the 2010 national award for his efforts to ensure humanitarian treatment of prisoners at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during his 2002 tenure there.

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