Navy orders personnel on hospital ship USNS Mercy to prepare for possible deployment to Philippines

Philippines hit by Typhoon Haiyan last week

SAN DIEGO - The Navy on Wednesday ordered personnel on the San Diego-based hospital ship USNS Mercy to prepare for possible deployment in the next few days to typhoon-stricken areas of the Philippines.

The Mercy could reach the area sometime next month, according to the Pacific Fleet.

Typhoon Haiyan roared across the central Philippines last week, leaving widespread death and destruction in its wake. The official death toll so far is more than 2,300, with an additional 600,000 people in need of help.

The damage is particularly acute on Leyte Island, site of famous World War II land and sea battles.

The Navy said the Mercy has been in a normal reduced operating status.

The order by Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Harry Harris Jr. will result in personnel and equipment being moved to the ship in preparation for deployment.

The San Diego-based guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens left a port stop in Hong Kong early to sail to the Phillipines, along with other vessels in the USS George Washington Aircraft Carrier Battle Group. Okinawa-based Marines have been in-country for several days now.

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