A Fassmer life/tender boat from the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) heads toward the scene of a mock medical emergency during RIMPAC emergency disaster training. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin W. Galvin)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) personnel demonstrated their newest patient transfer capability at the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise July 10.

Two tender boats launched from Mercy to pick up patients from the shore and transported them to the Navy's hospital ship. This is a likely situation in a humanitarian assistance or disaster relief scenario when the hospital ship is at sea and patients ashore need medical care.

"These tender boats increase our capability significantly," said Capt. Jeffery Paulson, commanding officer of the Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) aboard Mercy. "These new boats are larger and can accommodate more patients."

The exercise also provided a valuable training opportunity for Mercy civilian mariners and military medical personnel to coordinate with each other.

"This is a great experience for all of us," said Baron Garvey, a Military Sealift Command (MSC) cargo mate assigned to Mercy. "My job is to manage, plan and execute all deck operations, and it's important that we work together with the medical team. This will help us prepare for real-life missions."

Chief Hospital Corpsman Jashir Setias, an independent duty corpsman assigned to Mercy, highlighted the value of realistic training to prepare Sailors to be ready for future real-world situations.

"We are training hard today so we will be ready for a real situation," said Setias. "One day these corpsman will be called upon to respond to an emergency or they will participate in a humanitarian mission. Because we are training for those situations today, we will be ready in the future."

Corpsmen assigned to the tender boats stabilize, secure and monitor the patient during the transfer.

"The tender boats are like aquatic ambulances," said Hospitalman Nickolas Ross, from Portland, Oregon. "This is my first time doing something like this. I'm looking forward to stepping in to see what logistics are involved to get a patient into the boat and then to get him up into casualty receiving on Mercy. I'm excited learn."

Throughout the exercise, Mercy MTF personnel will participate in medical subject matter expert exchanges with other nations ashore and at-sea and will participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise events.

Mercy, homeported in San Diego, is in Pearl Harbor participating for the first time in RIMPAC. Mercy is one of two Navy hospital ships, crewed by civil service mariners assigned to MSC.

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 26 - Aug. 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series that began in 1971.