Inside the Mercy
9 June 2016
As you walk along the various passageways past the operating suites, radiology, pathology and the optical and dental facilities, you get the sense that you are in a state-of-the-art seven story hospital somewhere in Australia, however this is no ordinary hospital.
This is the hospital ship USNS Mercy – weighing in at 69000 tons, she is by far the largest floating hospital in the world that can go anywhere in support of humanitarian assistance or disaster relief.
Mercy boasts twelve operating theatres, a pre-op center, four intensive care wards, a radiology department (complete with CT scanner) fifteen post-operative wards, isolation wards, pathology labs, a suite of dental surgeries, and all other associated medical services that you would find provided in a well-equipped hospital.
For the Australian Defence Force medical contingent currently serving on her for Pacific Partnership 16, being aboard Mercy is quite a unique experience.
Squadron Leader Shane Brun is an associate professor at Queensland's James Cook University and an emergency doctor serving with the Royal Australian Air Force as a Specialist Reserve Officer.
He said that everything about the medical side of the ship is like a normal hospital in Australia.
"As far as working in a hospital goes, the facilities aboard this ship are second to none," Squadron Leader Brun said.
"The only difference with this hospital is that we take the hospital to the patients."
While Mercy's primary mission is to provide rapid, flexible, and mobile acute medical and surgical services in support US Forces, she also provides mobile surgical hospital services for use in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief situations and peacetime exercises like Pacific Partnership.
Exercise Pacific Partnership 16 is the latest in a series of annual Humanitarian Assistance and disaster relief programs sponsored by Commander - US Pacific Fleet.
The exercise is aimed at strengthening alliances and promoting multilateral disaster management among contributing and host nations.
This year's host nations include Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Indonesia and Palau.