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    Setting the Training Standard for Hospital Ships Across the Fleet



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Harley Sarmiento 

    USNS MERCY (T-AH 19)

    SAN DIEGO – (Dec. 04, 2019) Military Sealift Command (MSC) Force Nurse and Branch Head for Training and Quality Assurance, Capt. Kevin Buss is aboard MSC hospital ship USNS Mercy’s (T-AH 19) for the quarterly Mercy Exercise (MERCEX) 20-1 to begin the movement to standardize the training conducted between the Mercy and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20).

    During this pierside exercise, more than 300 embarked Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen are participating in exercises, trainings, and drills to help prepare them for any mission the Mercy may be called upon for.

    “Every gray hull in the fleet conducts training and workups to get them ready to deploy, there is a set standard for their certifications,” said Buss.
    According to Buss, each of the hospital ships have their own, mission-specific requirements (Pacific Partnership or Enduring Promise) for certification before deploying but they are not standardized from ship to ship, which means these requirements vary. That’s something Buss aims to change.

    By standardizing the training so that it’s the same for both hospital ships and each crew trains and prepares the same way, it makes it easier for the ships to work together and complete the mission, especially in a time of war, added Buss.

    Mercy’s crew begins planning the training for each MERCEX as soon as the previous one ends.

    “I work with the director for medical operations planning (DMOP) to plan the quarterly trainings that will be conducted onboard,” said Lt. Nadine Harrison, Mercy training officer. “We use our command guidance and working groups to get everything and everyone ready prior to the MERCEX. Having MSC onboard is really helpful and will only make our future training planning and communications with the Comfort for future exercises smoother and more aligned.”
    The hospital ships work their training schedules just like any standard Navy training in a crawl, walk, run progressive-style learning method. That consists of pierside exercises, underway operational exercises, and implementation of all the exercises when deploying.
    “It is important that we conduct both pierside and underway exercises to test our capabilities both physically, mentally, and as a team before deploying,” said Buss. “We need to expose the strengths and weaknesses of each platform to make sure we are ready for the fight when called upon.”
    Both Mercy and Comfort conduct the quarterly exercises to help prepare both the reduced operating status (ROS) and full operating status (FOS) crews of both ships to work together cohesively when the time comes.
    “Ideally we would want both crews to have a standardized training schedule within the year,” said Buss. “With unplanned humanitarian and disaster relief (HA/DR) responses and other unavoidable periods, it will more than likely be a multi-year process to match both ships’ training schedules. Being aboard for this MERCEX will only help the process along and, so far, I am very impressed with what I am seeing from the Mercy crew.”

    When called upon, the Mercy is expected to deploy within five days to provide scalable, role three medical and surgical care across a broad range of specialties. Mercy does so while serving as an afloat theater hospitalization capability, all in support of the joint warfighter engaged in the full range of military operations.

    MERCEX keeps both the MSC merchant mariners and service members up to par on their skills and keeps them ready to deploy in a moment’s call to anywhere in the world.

    Mercy is currently operating pier side in San Diego for Mercy Exercise 20-1. Mercy is one of two hospital ships owned and operated by Military Sealift Command and conducts operations in the Pacific area of responsibility under the guidance of U.S. Pacific Command and Commander, Pacific Fleet.



    Date Taken: 12.10.2019
    Date Posted: 12.10.2019 11:17
    Story ID: 354998
    Location: SAN DIEGO, CA, US 

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