HONOLULU — Two Navy ships are leaving Hawaii on a four-month deployment to Southeast Asia and several small Pacific island states to help countries better respond to disasters.

The hospital ship USNS Mercy and the joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket are setting sail from Pearl Harbor on Wednesday.

The Navy has operated similar missions since 2006, when it sent the Mercy to the Philippines, Indonesia and other Asian countries.

In past years, the mission's doctors have offered cataract surgery, dental fillings and veterinary care for pigs and other livestock. Engineers have helped build schools.

The latest "Pacific Partnership" mission will stop in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati (keer-ih-BAHS'), Micronesia, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Vietnam.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet says it aims to improve maritime security, conduct humanitarian assistance and strengthen disaster response preparedness.

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