The crew of Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) are hosting two midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014, July 14 to Aug. 10.
The midshipmen are aboard the Mercy to further their professional development as future leaders of the fleet by introducing them to underway hospital operations, expose them to how the Navy prepares itself, manages mass casualty situations on a hospital ship and give them a sense of day-to-day life at sea.
“It’s the first time midshipmen have been aboard Mercy,” said Lt. j.g. Erin Dowling, a ward nurse aboard Mercy. “It is very beneficial for these two midshipmen to be on a floating medical treatment facility (MTF) that does strictly medicine and nursing.”
Midshipman 1st Class Vikram Mukherjee and Midshipman 1st Class Chelsea Sehifferle, upcoming seniors at the Naval Academy, plan on pursuing careers in the medical corps. To date, they said they’ve enjoyed their time on the ship and have been impressed with the mission-first mindset and personable demeanor of the ship’s staff.
Thus far, the midshipmen have participated in several activities, including serving as runners during a mass casualty drill, playing injured patients during a medical evacuation exercise, standing on the ship’s bridge as it got underway and are scheduled to take a tour of the People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army (Navy) hospital ship Ark Peace (T-AH 866).
As the midshipmen are aboard Mercy during RIMPAC, they have immersed themselves in the ship’s various training evolutions and are interacting with the international military medical community, including officials from the Canadian Armed Forces and the People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army (Navy) [PLA(N)].
This year’s RIMPAC marks the first time in the exercises history that hospital ships have participated. 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 California coast and Hawaiian Islands.