Hospital Ship Mercy – Under Fire In The Philippines

Hospital Ship Mercy

The NY Times reports on unfortunate news from the ship I’d most like to sail on, the Hospital Ship Mercy. They write:

Though countries in Southeast Asia have, with American help, been making some headway against terrorist groups in the region, as Eric Schmitt reported in The New York Times today, there are also “worrisome signs that the threat could rebound quickly,” Mr. Schmitt reported.

Right on cue, then, comes the news today that the United States Navy is calling a halt to a humanitarian mission in Mindanao in the strife-torn southern Philippines because someone shot at and hit one of its helicopters.

The Associated Press reports that the helicopter had flown inland from the U.S.N.S. Mercy, a hospital and relief ship, to pick up 11 passengers, and when it returned to the ship, mechanics found two holes in it:
“The holes appear to be an entry and exit point from a single bullet,” said Cmdr. Jeff A. Davis, a Navy spokesman.

It is unclear if the bullet struck while the passengers were on the helicopter, he said. There were no injuries, and the aircraft’s commander was unaware of any bullet striking the aircraft during the flight, Davis said.

Who would shoot at a helicopter on a humanitarian mission? Continue Reading…

While the ship is owned by the United State’s Military Sealift Command (the civilian branch of the US Navy) and the hospital is staffed primarily by Navy personel the ship itself is run by civilian mariners. In a previous post we write:

The Hospital Ships Comfort and Mercy are maintained in reduced-operating status (ROS), at their homeports, on standby to sail within five days of notification. While on ROS, the ships have only small crews. The Comfort, for example, has 58 Navy personnel and 18 civilian mariners on board, explained her civilian captain, Master Mariner Dean Bradford, in a tour of his vessel.

A full description of the ship’s mission can be found HERE.