The testing takes place following a seven-month maintenance period where the ship's flight deck was expanded and reinforced to accommodate the size, weight and heat of larger aircraft, allowing the ship to receive patients and supplies through a variety of aviation platforms.
Over the course of several days, the ship will exercise with the V-22, practicing take-offs and landings from Mercy's flight deck, followed by operations with the MH-60s. Increased flight operations will allow critical patients a quicker route to the ship for treatment, vice a slower boat ride from one of the ships tender boats.
Because this is the first time the V-22s have conducted flight operations onboard Mercy, Navy personnel from San Diego, Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63), America-class amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7), Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron 3 and Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 49, are onboard to train and assist the civil service mariner crew.
The dynamic interface operations are one of several training, testing and inspection periods the Mercy will undergo in preparation for future missions, including the Pacific Partnership humanitarian mission.
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