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NEWS | July 16, 2014

USNS Mercy Departs Pearl Harbor for RIMPAC's Sea Phase

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Pyoung K. Yi

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) departed Pearl Harbor July 15 to participate in the sea phase of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014, the world's largest international maritime exercise.

While underway, Mercy is scheduled to participate in various events including simulated medical evacuations (MEDEVAC), a mass casualty exercise and subject-matter expert exchanges (SMEE) with other RIMPAC participants.

"I am looking forward to operating with different allied partner nations," said Capt. Michael Perkow, mission commander aboard Mercy during RIMPAC. "This is a great opportunity for everyone to learn together and operate in a multinational environment."

The MEDEVAC simulations are scheduled to arrive within Mercy's task force and other participating ships. The simulations will test each ships' medical department's ability to respond and evaluate patients, and then decide whether they need to be brought to Mercy for a higher level of medical care.

"I am looking forward to testing our junior officers, integrating their skills and knowledge they've learned so far with our previous engagements with other countries," said Cmdr. Angelo Lucero, a staff member for Mercy's directorate for nursing services.

The mass casualty exercise is scheduled to simulate an oil platform accident with 40 patients being brought to Mercy, allowing the ship's staff to train in an environment in which a large amount of injured people are loaded onto the ship.

SMEEs are slated to take place with medical personnel from other nations participating in RIMPAC.

"The SMEEs are for Mercy's staff to learn best practices other navies have developed and also for our allied partners to learn some of our best practices," said Perkow.

This year's RIMPAC marks the first time in the exercise's history that hospital ships have participated. Twenty-two nations, 49 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 26 to Aug. 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
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