Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, directed that the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) be returned to a reduced operating status Nov. 25.
Following a devastating typhoon in the Philippines, Mercy was activated Nov. 13 for possible deployment to support disaster relief efforts as part of Operation Damayan.
“Shifting Mercy from her normal reduced operating status to fully ready to deploy in a matter of days is a testament to the responsiveness and expertise of the Military Sealift Command, our Navy medical corps, and the shipyard civilian workforce in San Diego,” said Pacific Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Steve Curry.
Mercy was prepared for deployment as a prudent measure in the event that the scope and scale of the relief efforts in the Philippines necessitated the long-term, robust capabilities the hospital ship provides.
“Our friends needed our help, so we leaned forward to get Mercy ready to deploy early in the crisis, before the medical situation was completely known, due the time required to prepare the ship for sea, and transit to the Philippines,” said Curry. “The medical situation in the Philippines has dramatically improved over the last two weeks, with numerous U.S. and international care providers currently operating in impacted areas, so the ship will not deploy.”
Within six days of Typhoon Haiyan hitting the region, the U.S. Pacific Fleet had 10 ships and numerous aircraft on station delivering vital assistance to the government and people of the Philippines. In addition to two P-3 maritime aircraft from VP-26, USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS Antietam (CG 54), USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62), USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Mustin (DDG 89), USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4), and USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) deployed with 21 helicopters and provided support during the initial stages of the disaster relief effort.
On Nov. 20, USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) arrived at the Philippines with embarked Marines as part of the Navy-Marine Corps team effort to provide humanitarian assistance. Subsequently, USS Freedom (LCS 1) also deployed in support of Operation Damayan.
Operation Damayan is part of the broader U.S. Government interagency effort led by the Department of State to support the Government of the Philippines’s request for humanitarian assistance.
Press Release, November 27, 2013; Image: US Navy