The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) hosted the Commander of People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army (Navy) [PLA(N)] South Sea Fleet July 15 while the ship was underway for Rim of the Pacific’s (RIMPAC) 2014.
While aboard, Vice Adm. Weilie Jiang toured Mercy’s facilities including casualty receiving, the ship’s operating room complex, intensive care unit and the pilot house.
During the tour, Jiang stressed to Mercy’s hospital staff about the importance of exchanging ideas with PLA(N)’s hospital ship Ark Peace’s (T-AH 866) crew about medical practices and how to coordinate future humanitarian relief and disaster response efforts.
“I think Vice Admiral Jiang’s presence aboard Mercy sends a pretty strong signal that we’re committed to exchanging ideas and technological expertise, especially in the field of health care, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” said Capt. Michael Taylor, commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific. “Both Ark Peace and Mercy have similar missions and it’s very beneficial for us to share ideas and exchange thoughts.”
One of the main topics discussed during Vice Admiral Jiang’s tour aboard Mercy was the idea of exchanging knowledge between medical personnel aboard Mercy and Ark Peace.
“During the subject matter expert exchanges scheduled, there are areas in which we are well-versed and can pass on what we’ve learned.” said Dr. Xiaodong Zhang, the infection control officer aboard Ark Peace. “On the flip side, there are subjects in which the Mercy’s crew are probably very knowledgeable, and we can learn what they have to share in those subjects. It’s important for us to cooperate and improve each other’s capabilities.”
Jiang expressed interest in Mercy’s capabilities during his tour of the hospital ship and exchanged command ball caps and command coins with Mercy’s mission commander and commanding officer.
RIMPAC 2014 is scheduled to have the largest medical presence in its 24-exercise history – with two hospital ships, symposiums, subject matter expert exchanges and over 20 medical exercise events. Twenty-two nations, 49 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.