SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), based in San Diego, set sail Jan. 5 for the Indian Ocean area as part of relief efforts following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that recently struck the region.
The Navy has deployed Mercy in an imaginative way, utilizing a creative approach to provide the type and level of care that will be needed to aid the tsunami victims. There is presently an opportunity to configure Mercy with a humanitarian assistance crew - which might be staffed significantly by nongovernmental organizations and people with significant medical capability who can provide relief in other forms.
It will take the 894-foot hospital ship about 30 days to reach the Indian Ocean region. The ship's 1,000-bed hospital facility will be initially staffed to support 250 patient beds. The number of patient care beds can be expanded up to 1,000 with additional medical staff, if necessary. Equipment and supplies will be available to treat a wide variety of patients from young children to the elderly.
Mercy has 12 operating rooms, but it is likely the focus of care for this mission will be on patients suffering from illness or infections.
About 275 medical and medical support personnel will sail with Mercy to ready the ship for the humanitarian mission. The remaining hospital staff will join the ship later this month. The ship is operated by 64 Navy civilian mariners.
For related news on Navy tsunami relief operations, visit the Focus on Tsunami Relief Operations page at www.navy.mil/local/tsunami.
For news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.