MV-22B Osprey flies over USNS Osprey
An MV-22B Osprey flies over the USNS Osprey. Navy photo

The hospital ship USNS Mercy, which was sent to Los Angeles during the first wave of the pandemic, departed San Diego on Nov. 8 for a three-week exercise that includes training to receive casualties via new Osprey tiltrotors.

Over 300 sailors embarked aboard the Mercy to participate in exercises at the pier at Naval Base San Diego and underway in the Pacific Ocean to test the vessel’s overall medical capability and efficiency.

“We have drawn up a package of drills combining personnel movement in small boats with our civilian mariner colleagues, as well as patient movement utilizing the MV-22B Osprey on our new flight deck,” said Capt. Timothy Quast, the Mercy’s commanding officer. “Getting the mock patients safely and expeditiously to the casualty receiving department will be a key theme.”

The exercise will include a mass casualty drill, firefighting training and damage control drills, as well as ensuring the ship’s engineering capabilities.

“This is our first voyage in nearly six months, and we have a very full schedule. The crew has fire and boat drills, a man overboard scenario, small boat and rescue craft operations, high-speed runs for the ship’s main engines and anchoring evolutions,” said Capt. Peter Nolan, the Mercy’s ship’s master.

The hospital ship is always on five-day-activation status in order to support the Navy worldwide.

“Our guiding principles after all are ready, reliable and resilient,” said Quast.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.