Wow… what a day! Yesterday I got a chance to tour the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship that is moored in Pearl Harbor for the weekend before traveling to Guam.
Mission of the Mercy:
Primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. Mercy’s secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations.
We began the day by meeting about 15-20 folks that are fairly active in social media and in particular Twitter at the Pearl Harbor Pass Headquarters.
We then carpooled in Pacific Fleet vans onto Pearl Harbor where we were greeted by folks that would be giving us the tour.
They explained the general guidelines of this tour and then asked if there were any questions before we began. Of course I had to ask if there was anything that we couldn’t take pictures of, because when I toured the USS Chung Hoon, they wouldn’t let us take pictures of the combat operations center.
We boarded the ship and then began the tour.
I of course seemed to be following everyone and holding up the pace of the tour as usual.
I didn’t really know where we were heading to, so I just followed the pack
I don’t know how many flights of stairs we headed up…
But all of a sudden we ended up at the “Bridge” of the ship and got to meet the Commanders of the USNS Mercy.
Commodore Lisa M. Franchetti, Captain David C. Bradshaw and Captain Jeffrey W. Paulson at that point explained a few things about the USNS Mercy and it’s missions.
“When not deployed, Mercy is kept in reduced operating status in San Diego where a small crew of civil service mariners and Navy medical personnel maintain the ship in a high state of readiness. When activated, Mercy can transition to full operating status in five days.”
We left the “Restricted Area” and then continued on with our tour
We got out on to the highest point of the Mercy
Where we had a great view of Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial
As well as the “Mighty Mo”
And of course I got scoldings from our tour guide for trying to get too close to the helicopter that was on board.
“Patients arrive aboard primarily by helicopter and sometimes by small boat.”
“Mercy has one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States. The Hospital has a full spectrum of surgical and medical services including four X-Rays, one CT scan Unit, a dental suite, an optometry and lens laboratory, a physical therapy center, a pharmacy, an angiography suite and two oxygen-producing plants. Mercy is capable of maintaining up to 5,000 units of blood.”
“In Spring of 1987, the Mercy conducted a four-month humanitarian assistance and training deployment to the Republic of the Philippines and other South Pacific Islands. Mercy’s Naval medical personnel provided medical attention ranging from outpatient care to major surgery to more then 73,000 people.”
Mercy was also deployed to Southeast Asia after the 2004 Tsunami where medical personnel treated more than 107,000 patients, performed 466 surgeries, distributed 11,555 pairs of eyeglasses and performed more than 6,900 dental procedures.
Patients are assessed for medical treatment in casualty receiving and routed to surgery or other services depending on their medical condition.
The USNS Mercy is the first of two Mercy-class hospital ships.
The Mercy was a former Oil Tanker that got re-outfitted to become a floating hospital basically and it was delivered to the US Navy in 1986. Because it was a former Oil Tanker, they were able to make the inside nice and wide and it actually gave the appearance of an actual hospital and one person even made a comment that it smelled like Tripler Hospital.
I had a great time on board the ship and learned a lot about it. It was even greater meeting some folks that I have only met online and finally getting a chance to meet them in real life! Just wish I would have had more time to talk to them!
You can click on any of the pictures below for a larger picture.