The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) transits San Diego Bay June 16. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Huey D. Younger Jr.)

SAN DIEGO - The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH19) departed for the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 exercise in Hawaii, June 16.

RIMPAC, officially scheduled for June 26 to Aug. 1, is the world's largest international maritime exercise. This year, 23 countries, 47 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are scheduled to participate.

"The purpose of Mercy's participation in RIMPAC is to further Pacific Fleet's goal of engagements across the Pacific Ocean," said Capt. Jeffery Paulson, commanding officer of the Medical Treatment Facility aboard Mercy. "In our case, it's to further health engagements where we have an opportunity to interact with many of our international partners."

Mercy is traveling from its homeport of Naval Base San Diego to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where it will train medical staff underway in casualty care. They will be simulating casualties and utilizing high-tech medical mannequins for training.

Mercy is scheduled to provide tours and conduct subject matter expert exchanges with a number of partner nation medical personnel, civilians and other U.S. military representatives throughout its stay in Hawaii.

Mercy personnel are also scheduled to participate in a Canadian-led medical symposium with other nations ashore on July 1-2, and will participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise events.

RIMPAC will be the first time at sea for many of the Sailors assigned to Mercy, which include a large group of medical officers and hospital corpsman assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego.

"I'm really looking forward to my first deployment, my first time being on a ship, and seeing how ship life works," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Justin Moore. "My father was in the Navy, and he told me that I'll learn how the Navy works on a ship."

This will be the first time that Mercy participates in RIMPAC, an exercise that began in 1971. RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity for participants to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans.