Wednesday, August 6, 2008

If it’s Wednesday…it must be Port Moresby


Dear Family & Friends,

Here we are at our next-to-the-last mission stop – Papua New Guinea (PNG). For you geography buffs, the island (the world’s second largest) of New Guinea sits just north of the continent of Australia. The western half of this huge island is part of Indonesia. The eastern half is the independent country of Papua New Guinea. We are presently anchored in the harbor at Port Moresby on the southern part of the island.

Getting here from Darwin was interesting because it required passing through the Torres Straits. This can be a tricky transit (about 8 hours) for a ship the size of Mercy. There are some really shallow areas you need to navigate in and around. A lot of history in these waters… The Torres Straits were transited by Captain William Bligh after he was set adrift by the mutineers from HMS Bounty. Bligh sailed for 6-weeks from a spot near Tonga over 3800 miles in a 23 foot open boat –finally reaching the Dutch settlement at Kupang on the western side of the island of Timor (not far from our last mission site). Once you reach the eastern side of the Torres Straits you are in the Coral Sea. During WWII, Admiral Frank “Jack” Fletcher led the carriers Yorktown and Lexington into these waters and turned back the Japanese invasion force headed for Port Moresby.

Things are kicking off well here in PNG. We’re having a bit of difficulty with the winds in this harbor - kicking up between 25-35 knots daily. This is making boat ops difficult getting our people ashore and the patients to the ship. Fortunately, there is a large coral reef that protects the entrance of the harbor which keeps the sea swells down. I’m sure we’ll be safe.

We have received very warm receptions in all of mission sites. Nonetheless, the reception here in PNG is extraordinary! These people are just so friendly and so very receptive to our visit. Everyone aboard feels it. I think this is going to be one of our best missions yet!

Oh yes… Yesterday was my wife Pamela’s Birthday! Happy Birthday Honey!!

More to come…

Bob

7 comments:

jjenny9 said...
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jjenny9 said...
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Geoff said...

Captain,

I have enjoyed reading your blog during your cruise. My sister Cmdr. Tan is assigned to your ship so this gives me a little insight into what she experiences since communication with her is infrequent during this mission. I am proud of all the work your entire crew is doing for the poor people of Asia. Keep up the good work.

Thanks
Geoff (Mesa, AZ)

Dee said...

Thank God it's Port Moresby!! Captain you arrived in Port Moresby just in time to rescue a friend and colleague who had collapsed on the Kokoda Track. We are so grateful to you and your crew for all that you are doing for Debra - we know she is getting the best care available. We are a small, close-knit office and Debra is a very important member of our team. We know things are very serious for Debra right now and are hopeful of receiving better news soon. Thank you, just for being there in time to greatly improve Debra's chances of recovery. We are all concerned and wait by the phone for the updates the family is giving us. God bless the work you do.

Mr. Gill said...

Skipper,

Happy birthday to the Missus, many more, together next time I hope.

Good to see all are healthy as you are closing in on the end of this voyage. Spirits must be high and ops tempo remains the same.

Thanks for the updates and don't forget to make a big deal of my Irish Rose's birthday on September 6th! She'll love you.

Hey Geoff, welcome aboard!

gill

Vmaximus said...

Thank you Captain,
I also have enjoyed your bolg. Tell the higher ups it is a good thing.
I wish I was a part of your team.

Gari A said...

Captain
I thank Almighty God for you, your crew, your partners, the US Navy and your government. I watched from my village Hanuabada with my 84 year old mother on our way to church this morning, the USNS Mercy leaving Port Moresby Fairfax Harbour . My heart and my spirit could not stop praising and thanking God for the work you guys did in the past two weeks in PNG and especially for my village community - but more so to my wife. I was escort to my wife Geua who had two separate procedures done on her to sort out two different medical conditions. We stayed on Mercy four days and three nights. The Mercy staff including the Project Hope workers were true professionals - no doubt about that, but they performed with a spirit I can only afford to describe as very loving and very caring. I felt it strongly at the Medcaps and on-ship - and I witnessed many people described it as such. Every one of you that served us from shore to ship and back are all very special to us however I would like to make mention of the officers of Ward 11 (12-15 Aug) who made our stay on board very comfortable and a memorable one - and the doctors and their assistants that we consulted and who performed the procedures are real champions.
Thank you so much and God Bless you and all on USNS Mercy, your loved ones and your work.
Arua (Port Moresby, PNG)