Sunday, May 4, 2008

USNS Mercy - And I get to do it again!


Dear Family & Friends,

Hospital Ship USNS Mercy is back underway for another humanitarian mission. Many of you remember my journal from the 2006 mission – you have all again been included in my mailing list. Some of you are newly added and I hope you enjoy these writings as much as I enjoy bringing them to you. What is different about this year’s writings is that everything is being posted on my very own blog. This can be found at: http://mercycaptain.blogspot.com/

This looks to be a great trip. Mercy got underway from San Diego last Thursday. We are presently on our way to Pearl Harbor for a brief stop and then it’s off to the Western Pacific. Our mission this year is called Pacific Partnership 08. We have stops scheduled for the Philippines, Viet Nam, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Federated States of Micronesia. What’s different about this mission from the 2006 mission is we are visiting fewer ports; however, we will be making longer stays in the ports we do visit. This is to provide longer post-operative care for the patients and allow our medical staff to take on more challenging cases.

I still can’t believe I’m so lucky to be able to do this again. The mission in 2006 was, without a doubt, the highlight of my career. To be the skipper of a hospital ship – going on a humanitarian mission to provide free medical care to people in need – is beyond anything I ever dreamed when I decided on the profession as a Merchant Marine officer over 30-years ago.

I reported aboard Mercy about the middle of March having spent much of 2007 back on the Fleet Oiler USNS John Ericsson. It was a whirlwind of activities to prepare the ship for this voyage. It was a little easier for me this time…my experience from the ‘06 mission gave me a much better understanding of what would be needed. Nevertheless, the complexity of these missions makes mission planning a challenging task regardless of how much you know or how much you think you know. But we did it!

We have a great ship and a great crew and I believe we are going to have a great mission ahead of us. Right now we are just about half-way to Hawaii. Training for all hands is on-going and will continue right up to our first mission stop. There will be plenty to write about in the weeks ahead. Keep with me because there is…

More to come.

Bob

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