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The third USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) is the lead ship of her class of hospital ships in the United States Navy. She was named for the virtue of compassion. In accordance with the Geneva Conventions, USNS Mercy and her crew do not carry any ordnance. Firing on the Mercy is considered a war crime.

Mercy was built as an oil tanker, SS Worth, by National Steel and Shipbuilding Companymarker, San Diego, Californiamarker, in 1976. Starting in July 1984, she was renamed and converted to a hospital ship by the same company. Launched on 20 July 1985, USNS Mercy was commissioned on 8 November 1986. She has a raised forecastle, a transom stem, a bulbous bow, an extended deckhouse with a forward bridge, and a helicopter-landing deck with a flight control facility. The Mercy class hospital ships are the third largest ships in the U.S. Navy Fleet by length, surpassed only by the nuclear powered and Nimitz-class Supercarriers.

Her primary mission is to provide rapid, flexible, and mobile acute medical and surgical services to support Marine Corps Air/Ground Task Forces deployed ashore, Army and Air Force units deployed ashore, and naval amphibious task forces and battle forces afloat. Secondarily, she provides mobile surgical hospital service for use by appropriate US Government agencies in disaster or humanitarian relief or limited humanitarian care incident to these missions or peacetime military operations.

USNS Mercy, homeported in San Diego, Californiamarker, is normally in reduced operating status. Her crew remains a part of the staff of Naval Medical Center San Diego until ordered to sea, at which time they have five days to fully activate the ship to an Echelon III Medical Treatment Facility. Like most "USNS" Ships, Mariners from the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command are responsible for navigation, propulsion, and most deck duties on board. However, the "Medical Treatment Facility", or hospital on the ship, is commanded by a Captain of the Navy's Medical Corps. On July 9, 2009, Captain Jeffery Paulson, MC, USN assumed command of the Medical Treatment Facility on board Mercy


On 27 February 1987, Mercy began training while en route on a humanitarian cruise to the Philippines and the South Pacific. The staff included U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and U.S. Air Force active duty and reserve personnel; United States Public Health Service; medical providers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and MSC civilian mariners. Over 62,000 outpatients and almost 1,000 inpatients were treated at seven Philippine and South Pacific ports. Mercy returned to Oakland, Californiamarker, on 13 July 1987.

On 9 August 1990, Mercy was activated in support of Operation Desert Shield. Departing on 15 August, she arrived in the Persian Gulfmarker on 15 September. For the next six months, Mercy provided support to the multinational allied forces. She admitted 690 patients and performed almost 300 surgeries. After treating the 21 American and two Italian repatriated prisoners of war, she departed for home on 16 March 1991, arriving in Oakland, Californiamarker, on 23 April.

USNS Mercy departed San Diego on January 5, 2005 en route to the tsunami-devastated regions of South East Asia, where she provided medical care to the victims of the disaster as part of Operation Unified Assistance.

USNS Mercy departed San Diego in 2006 en route to several ports in the South Pacific Oceanmarker including the Philippinesmarker, Indonesiamarker and Banda Acehmarker. The ship's primary mission was to provide humanitarian assistance to these countries, and its staff included several Non-governmental organizations, doctors from the armed services of several countries, as well as active-duty and reserve military providers from many branches of the US armed forces.

USNS Mercy, departed San Diego on April 14, 2008 for "Pacific Partnership 2008", a 4-month humanitarian and civic deployment in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Mercy, with her 900 officers and sailors, included 300 US health and construction experts. Partners participating in the mission include the nations Australia, Canadamarker, Chilemarker, Japanmarker, the Republic of Koreamarker, New Zealandmarker and Portugalmarker, as well as several non-governmental organizations. Originally intended to visit the Philippinesmarker, Vietnammarker, the Federated States of Micronesiamarker, East Timormarker and Papua New Guineamarker, USNS "Mercy" was to be redirected to the Bay of Bengalmarker to provide immediate assistance to victims of the cyclone in Burmamarker, but relief efforts in Burmamarker were called off.

On June 10, the humanitarian mission was temporarily suspended after one of its helicopters was shot at in the strife-torn southern Philippines area of Mindanaomarker.

General characteristics

  • Patient Capacity:
    • Intensive care wards: 80 beds
    • Recovery wards: 20 beds
    • Intermediate care wards: 280 beds
    • Light care wards: 120 beds
    • Limited care wards: 500 beds
    • Total Patient Capacity: 1000 beds
    • Operating Rooms: 12
  • Departments and Facilities:
    • Casualty reception
    • Radiological services
    • Main laboratory plus satellite lab
    • Central sterile receiving
    • Medical supply/pharmacy
    • Physical therapy and burn care
    • Intensive Care Unit
    • Dental services
    • Optometry/lens lab
    • Morgue
    • Laundry
    • Oxygen producing plants (two)


  5., USNS Mercy Deploys for Pacific

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