It took this medical behemoth more than an hour to move through the channel at Pearl Harbor, and sailors stood at attention as it passed by the Arizona memorial. The ship can accommodate more than a thousand crewmembers. Almost every medical treatment performed on land can be done at sea.
"It has a thousand beds. It has a CT scanner. It has an X-ray. It has a tremendous ability to handle trauma," says Capt. Tim Hinman, the commanding officer of the medical treatment facility.
Every other year, Mercy joins in on the Pacific Partnership mission - traveling to third world and developing nations to provide, not only medical, but dental and engineering aid. This year, the mission heads to Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam - where they'll also practice emergency preparedness.
"When we have to work together during a natural disaster, like last year, during the tsunami relief efforts in Japan, we can rapidly come together and ease human suffering," says Mercy's commodore, Capt. Jim Morgan.
Crewmembers packed for more than four months at sea. Within days, empty hospital beds will be filled with patients - some who've never even seen a hospital (much less one floating on water).
"It was a life-changing event," says Teresa Parsons about her first mission aboard Mercy. Parsons is heading out on her second one soon.
The University of Hawaii nursing professor is one of seven UH faculty and staff invited along. She remembers how fulfilling it was to bring aid to people in developing countries. "We also learned so much from them. I think I learned as much on my trip last year about how they provide care when they have absolutely nothing."
Mercy is docked at Pearl Harbor until Friday (May 11th), and then, it's off to sea.