MSC Hospital Ship USNS Mercy Celebrates 30 Years of Service

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) celebrated 30 years of service to the Navy as a hospital ship, with a ceremony on the ship, Friday, Nov. 18. Attendees included Capt. Dave Dry, commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific, Capt. Peter Roberts, commanding officer, Mercy Military Treatment Facility, and  Capt. Michelle Huddleston, Mercy MTF executive officer.

Originally built as an oil tanker, SS Worth, Mercy is one of two hospital ships converted by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) in San Diego, Calif.  The ship was commissioned as a hospital ship on 8 November 1986.

 Hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) sits anchored off the coast of Legazpi, Philippines, with Mount Mayon in the distance during its second stop of Pacific Partnership 2016. Pacific Partnership is visiting the Philippines for the seventh time since its first visit in 2006. Partner nations are working side-by-side with local military and non-government organizations to conduct cooperative health engagements, community relation events and subject matter expert exchanges to better prepare for a natural disaster or crisis. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam/Released)

Hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) sits anchored off the coast of Legazpi, Philippines, with Mount Mayon in the distance during its second stop of Pacific Partnership 2016. Pacific Partnership is visiting the Philippines for the seventh time since its first visit in 2006. Partner nations are working side-by-side with local military and non-government organizations to conduct cooperative health engagements, community relation events and subject matter expert exchanges to better prepare for a natural disaster or crisis. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam/Released)

Mercy’s primary mission is to provide rapid, flexible, and mobile acute medical and surgical services to American and allied military forces. The ship’s first and only combat use came in 1990 when Mercy deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm.

In 2004, Mercy deployed to tsunami-devastated regions of South East Asia, providing medical care to the victims of the disaster as part of Operation Unified Assistance, and further care as part of Theater Security Cooperation Program 2005. Combined, she provided 108,000 patient services, rendered by members of the Department of Defense, Project Hope, and the United States Public Health Service.

In 2006, Mercy deployed on its first Pacific Partnership Mission to Southeast Asia, providing humanitarian and medical services to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Banda Ache.

Able Seaman Avery Lee (right) with Baron Garvey, 2nd Mate, and Able Seaman José Albo (left), aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), stow life vests used while transporting mission personnel during Pacific Partnership 2016. Military Sealift Command crew support personnel movement and safety during mission events. Partner nations are working side-by-side with local organizations during disaster response training, civil engineering projects, Women, Peace, and Security seminars, medical subject matter expert exchanges and a live field training exercise aimed at improving the capacity of local government, civilian agencies and partner militaries to collectively respond in crisis. (University of California-San Diego Predental Society photo by Ted Wendel/Released)

Able Seaman Avery Lee (right) with Baron Garvey, 2nd Mate, and Able Seaman José Albo (left), aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), stow life vests used while transporting mission personnel during Pacific Partnership 2016. Military Sealift Command crew support personnel movement and safety during mission events. Partner nations are working side-by-side with local organizations during disaster response training, civil engineering projects, Women, Peace, and Security seminars, medical subject matter expert exchanges and a live field training exercise aimed at improving the capacity of local government, civilian agencies and partner militaries to collectively respond in crisis. (University of California-San Diego Predental Society photo by Ted Wendel/Released)

Since 2006, Mercy has conducted six Pacific Partnership missions throughout Southeast Asia. The mission crews are made up of medical personnel from the United States Navy, as well as Non-government Organizations such as Project Smile and Project Hope, as well as civil service mariners from MSC, who sail and maintain the ship.   Each mission, the number of countries the ship visits grows.  In 2106, Mercy visited Timor Leste, Malaysia, Indonesia, Republic of the Philippines and Vietnam, and treating over 100,000 patients onboard and in field hospitals staffed with ship’s medical crew members.  The Pacific Partnership mission not only bring much needed medical and humanitarian aid, but also strengthen friendships between the United States and the host nations.

 Lt. Mark Debano, an optometrist attached to hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and native of Manistee, Michigan, checks a Timorese patient's eyes at Guido Valadares National Hospital. Pacific Partnership 2016 marks the sixth time the mission has visited Timor Leste since its first visit in 2006. Medical, engineering and various other personnel embarked aboard Mercy will work side-by-side with partner nation counterparts, exchanging ideas, building best practices and relationships to ensure preparedness should disaster strike. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)

Lt. Mark Debano, an optometrist attached to hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and native of Manistee, Michigan, checks a Timorese patient’s eyes at Guido Valadares National Hospital. Pacific Partnership 2016 marks the sixth time the mission has visited Timor Leste since its first visit in 2006. Medical, engineering and various other personnel embarked aboard Mercy will work side-by-side with partner nation counterparts, exchanging ideas, building best practices and relationships to ensure preparedness should disaster strike. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)

“Each of you here today, who are ready to answer the call and prepare Mercy to deploy on a moment’s notice, ready to leave your families in order to serve people you have never met,” said Dry in his keynote remarks.  “It is each and every one of you, and just as important are your families and those who stay behind and support what you do when you answer that call, your dedication to our navy and nation that makes MERCY such a special ship and the true national asset that she is.”
Mercy is currently in San Diego, preparing for its next scheduled mission; Pacific Partnership 2018.

 

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