Clock Ticking For Hospital Ship: USNS Mercy preparing for orders to head to Philippines

SAN DIEGO - Pier 1 at Naval Base San Diego is swarming with trucks, forklifts and cranes as the hospital ship USNS Mercy is under orders to get ready for departure.

The tasking order to possibly deploy to the disaster in the Philippines came Wednesday. The ship is normally held in a standby status.

"To get her transformed from that status to a full operational readiness is like an Olympic sprint because we have to get it done within five days or less," said Cmdr. Louis Acosta, the logistics director with Military Sealift Command, which operates the converted oil tanker.

USNS Mercy has been activated for disaster relief before, including a December 2004 mission after a tsunami struck Indonesia.

For now, this is just a tasking order to get ready. The official deploy order has yet to be issued, but it could come at any moment.

If the order is issued, the USNS Mercy will join other Navy assets in the Philippines, including the USS George Washington carrier strike group, as well as Marines from Okinawa.

The USNS Mercy could pick up medical personnel and supplies while en route.

Previous stories:

-- USNS Mercy preps for possible deployment: http://bit.ly/18BSYmZ

-- Hospital ship USNS Mercy on standby: http://bit.ly/HT2Ouz

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