The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command hospital ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), on June 30th sent her MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter to retrieve six injured people from a small land mass, Han Island, located in Papua New Guinea.
USNS Mercy received all six patients, including an 18-month old infant, who were immediately provided medical care.
Capt. Melanie Merrick, the commanding officer of the military treatment facility USNS Mercy, said that all patients are currently in good condition.
The Mission Commander of Pacific Partnership 2015, Capt. Chris Engdahl, directed his maritime operations center aboard Mercy to launch one of its helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 to pick up the injured and transport them to the ship for immediate care.
The injured had swam ashore after being lost at sea June 27th. On that same day, Mercy received a request for search and rescue support from the Chief Secretary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) through the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby. The ABG reported a small boat missing at sea along with several passengers, one of whom was an infant. The boat had been in transit from Buka to Carteret Island.
In response, Mercy launched two helicopters, both with Navy search and rescue swimmers on board, to search the area, but they were unable to locate the boat or any survivors.
Of the passengers on board, six were able to swim to shore including a mother and her 18-month-old infant. The other remaining passengers remain unaccounted for, but a search operation continues led by the Papua New Guinea National Maritime Safety Authority.
USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Arawa, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, on June 26th for its second mission stop of Pacific Partnership 2015.
Image: US Navy