PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy Surgeon General and Chief of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan visited the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) June 29 while it is in port for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
While aboard, Nathan had brunch with Mercy's officers and senior enlisted members, and toured the ship's various facilities, including casualty reception, operating room complex, the flight deck and inside one of Mercy's Fassmer Life/Tender Boats.
During brunch, Nathan addressed the attendees, emphasizing the special charge they have been given to care and medically provide for people during humanitarian missions and disaster relief efforts.
"What separates Navy medical personnel from the rest of the population is their readiness," said Nathan. "Their willingness to jump off and go where needed in a moment's notice and stay however long it takes."
Nathan spoke on a personal level with many medical officers, hospital corpsmen and flight deck personnel during his tour of the hospital.
"The visit by the Navy's surgeon general and his interactions with our crew allows him to get a feel for our corpsmen and staff," said Capt. Veronica Armstrong, director of nursing services aboard Mercy. "It's also a wonderful opportunity for the crew to see that big Navy is interested and supportive of what we are doing and reinforces our overall mission."
Nathan also spoke about Mercy's inaugural participation in RIMPAC and the effect it has had on bringing other countries' military medical ships and personnel together.
"Mercy's presence at RIMPAC recognizes Navy Medicine as a significant player on the world stage for coalition exercises and for support in both kinetic challenges and warfare," said Nathan. "We're not just seeing Mercy now, we're also seeing hospital ships from other nations joining us and partnering together. This shows the world is becoming more global and more engaged together."
Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.
The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
For more news from Navy Medicine, visit www.navy.mil/local/mednews/.