USNS Mercy’s Current Humanitarian Mission

Every year, the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship USNS Mercy is deployed on humanitarian missions around the world. This year, that mission is to the Western Pacific, where, for the next several months, it will be putting into port in many of the island nations of that area. They will once again be serving both critical and ordinary health needs for these nations and peoples while also educating local medical personnel.

The USNS Mercy is a massive hospital ship with some 1,000 hospital beds, including intensive care units, operating rooms, and dental care areas. As the video says, if it were located on land, it would be the country’s eighth-largest hospital in reference to the number of beds it has for patient care. It is a sophisticated, complex floating medical facility and can provide care for common to very complicated health problems, issues, and needs.

Photo: YouTube/KITV

In 2004, the Mercy was involved in bringing humanitarian help to the people of Indonesia after a devastating earthquake and the tsunami it created that swept across that area and into the Indian Ocean that year. Since then, it has conducted annual humanitarian missions at hundreds of places around the world. As such, USNS Mercy has been a positive ambassador representing the United States, bringing needed help and education to natural disaster situations and providing sophisticated, broad-ranging medical care that many smaller nations like those in the Western Pacific do not commonly have.

The USNS Mercy will be conducting this year’s mission in the area of the Western Pacific and Oceania for about the next 5-6 months. The hospital ship’s home port is currently in Hawaii. The ship is crewed by all of the necessary naval ratings to make a ship operational. But its main crews are made up of doctors with a variety of specialties, nurses, again trained in a variety of specialties, and Hospital Corpsmen. They make up the kind of medical staffing that would be found in a hospital of equivalent size.

Photo: YouTube/KITV

Hospital ships have been around for a long time. I had my own experience on one while serving in Vietnam. About halfway through my tour, I came down with a very severe case of malaria. I was medevaced to the USS Sanctuary, one of the two Navy hospital ships operating in the waters off of South Vietnam. These hospital ships have a night vision flight deck for helicopters that can operate 24 hours a day. I was so sick and so out of it that I don’t even remember being taken out to the Sanctuary or much of the first week there. I spent 21 days on the ship recovering from that bout with malaria and experienced the kind of professional medical care that those hospital ships gave to the wounded and sick during that wartime service.

You may remember, too, that the USNS Mercy and USNS Repose were called to duty during the early days of the COVID pandemic. They were brought into New York City and Los Angeles to relieve the overburdened city hospitals and to help care for the overflow of patients that were falling ill and dying at that time.

Photo: YouTube/KITV

These annual humanitarian missions give the United States Navy a powerful means of bringing vital health care and training to areas of the world that are in great need of such services. The crews on these ships must take a certain pride and joy in participating in these missions. They can even help to build clinics and schools on these deployments.

We wish the USNS Mercy and its crews and officers “Fair Winds And Following Seas” on this current humanitarian mission to the Western Pacific and Oceania. Bravo Zulu!

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