Hospital ship Mercy

U.S.Navy hospital ship Mercy steams beneath the Coronado Bridge shortly after setting sail from San Diego in 2006. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times / April 24, 2006)

The Navy has ordered the San Diego-based hospital ship Mercy to prepare for possible deployment to the Philippines to assist in disaster relief operations.

If the order to deploy is issued in the next few days, the Mercy would arrive in the Philippines in early December. To prepare the ship for deployment, 180 medical personnel are being assigned, with more possibly added later.

The Mercy would join other U.S. Pacific Fleet ships off the Philippines, including the San Diego-based cruiser Cowpens. The Cowpens, part of the carrier George Washington strike group, was on port call in Hong Kong.

The Mercy deployed to the western Pacific last year to provide medical assistance to areas including the Philippines.

Personnel from the Mercy have trained with Philippine authorities, allowing the ship to rapidly respond with critically needed help in times of crisis, the Navy said in announcing that the Mercy has been ordered to be ready for deployment.

The order to prepare the Mercy for possible deployment was made by Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.


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tony.perry@latimes.com