03 July 2012

Hospital ship USNS Mercy docks in Subic Bay

The US naval ship Mercy (T-AH-19), a floating hospital on a four-month Asian tour, docked on Monday at the Alava Pier here for a six-day humanitarian mission, as well as rest and relaxation for its crew.

In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila said that USNS Mercy is in Subic Bay as part of the Philippine leg of Pacific Partnership 2012, a U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance program held annually.

The Pacific Partnership program brings together U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-government organizations and international agencies to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

US Navy Capt. James Morgan, mission commanding officer of Pacific Partnership 2012, clarified that the arrival of USNS Mercy in the Philippines does not have anything to do with the issues on Panatag Shoal in the Western Philippine Sea.

“It’s a scheduled mission. We’ve been planning this Pacific Partnership 2012 for over a year now and it has been in docket for a long time at the invitations of the government of the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia,” Morgan said.

Before going to Subic, USNS Mercy also conducted humanitarian and civic action missions in Northern and Western Samar, including the towns of San Isidro and Calbayog and the city of Catbalogan.

Meanwhile, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia welcomed the arrival of USNS Mercy here, saying the agency would like to help in missions such as this in any way it can.

He said the presence of USNS Mercy in Subic for both humanitarian and civic activities “will surely benefit the residents in the surrounding communities of the Freeport.”

“We are very grateful that Subic is playing a major role as host port for the hospital ship USNS Mercy for its humanitarian and medical mission,” he added.

Meanwhile, US Navy officers noted that Subic Bay is one of the best ports as far as logistics and relaxation are concerned.

“I think everybody has relaxation on their mind, and it is much needed. We’ve been working very hard and rigorously practically every day for the last month,” said US Navy Capt. Timothy Hinman, the commanding officer of the medical treatment facility for the USNS Mercy.

The hospital ship has a 1,000-bed capacity and is ready to respond to natural disasters or other contingencies in times of conflict. “This means anytime that we would receive a call,” Hinman added.

USNS Mercy has about 850 medical personnel and a total complement of 1,200 people who work as support staff in medical, engineering, construction and maintenance, and other related activities. (RAV/MPD-SBMA))

Crew members of the hospital ship USNS Mercy man the rail as the ship sails into Subic Bay on Monday afternoon for a five-day replenishing of supplies and rest and recreation for its crew. The ship is participating in a medical and humanitarian mission in the Asia-Pacific region.