Thursday, May 15, 2008

En Route to Guam

Dear Family & Friends,

It is a busy time here aboard Mercy as we continue on to Guam. This will be our last logistics stop before our first mission. We expect to get aboard about 200 additional medical folks who will be flying to the island to meet us. These people will be both from the military as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s).

Still no word if we will be going to Myanmar. Although we’ll be ready if called.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of this mission is the command structure. It is without a doubt one of the most unusual organizational compositions ever devised. The mission commander is Commodore Bill Kearns (who embarked in Hawaii along with his staff). For the last 6 months or so, he has been deeply involved in the planning of Pacific Partnership - where we are going to go and what we will do when we get there. Bill is a regular naval line officer, a Navy Captain, with a background in Destroyers.

Because we are a hospital ship it is probably a good idea to have someone in charge that went to medical school. I’m very lucky to have aboard as my main colleague Captain Jim Rice. Jim is the Commanding Officer of Mercy’s Medical Treatment Facility. In other words, he runs the hospital. Jim is a Navy Medical Officer – a physician - and general surgeon by training. He and I have rapidly become good friends.

And then, of course, there is me - the skipper of this fine vessel. It is my job to get the ship from one location to another. Jim and I carry on a running joke between us: “Is the ship a hospital or is the hospital a ship?” The correct answer, of course, is: “Both.” It takes each of us to do what we do best in order to make the USNS Mercy work. Jim will tell you he’s not the one you want conning this huge vessel under the Coronado Bridge. And I know you don’t want me taking out your appendix.

So there you have it…A Navy surface line officer; a surgeon; and a civilian tanker captain joining up to form the command element of an extraordinary ship and an even more extraordinary mission. Hard to believe, but it works!

More to come…



Peter said...

Glad to be aboard, Captain! Found your web blog while browsing for information on the USNS Mercy. Our son, a Captain in the USAF Dental Corp stationed in Okinawa, will be joining your vessel in Guam. We are excited for him and for all who have embarked on this grand mission. After 38 years sailing merchant vessels with the MEBA, I have recently retired. Smooth sailing.
Chief Engineer Pete Olson
Duxbury, MA

Marian Moran said...

Glad to find your blog by accident.
We will look forward to your messages and pictures from the ship. We are the parents of Kevin Moran ( Kemo ) , a helio pilot.
What a great mission you are do good and share the good will of our Country on this Memorial Day Weekend. Fair sailing, flight crew; fly high, land soft ! The Morans

Jon said...

Good luck to you and your crew! I was the State Department officer in charge of coordinating with Peleliu last year in Papua New Guinea. The work of the military and civiliant personnel was amazing. Please seek out opportunities to work with the PNG Defense Force...they have a small naval base in Port Moresby. Their sailors would love to learn from your sailors. The work you do is so important to our relations in the region. Give my best to CPT Rice, who I met last year in Madang. Please let me know if I can be of assistance.

Best regards, Jon Ward,

sexy said...