USNS Mercy prepares for lead role in Pacific Partnership 2016

Crewmembers aboard the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) recently participated in an abandon ship drill while in its homeport at Naval Base San Diego.

Mercy is preparing for Pacific Partnership 2016, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

According to the U.S. Navy, this year’s mission will include more than 600 military and civilian personnel from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.

Born out of the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of Southeast Asia, Pacific Partnership began as a military-led humanitarian response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters.

Now in its 11th year, this year’s mission will be led by Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, embarked on the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).

Pacific Partnership 2016 will include mission stops in five partner nations throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The partner nations will be announced before mission begins in June.

As for the ship that will be in charge of this year’s mission, the USNS Mercy is one two hospital ships owned and operated by Military Sealift Command provide emergency, on-site care for U.S. combatant forces deployed in war or other operations.

The hospital ships’ secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.

Both hospital ships are converted San Clemente-class super tankers. Mercy was delivered in 1986 and Comfort in 1987. Normally, the ships are kept in a reduced operating status in Baltimore, Md., and San Diego, Calif., by a small crew of civil service mariners and active duty Navy medical and support personnel. Each ship can be fully activated and crewed within five days.

USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) each contain 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000 bed hospital facility, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen producing plants.

Each ship is equipped with a helicopter deck capable of landing large military helicopters. The ships also have side ports to take on patients at sea.