Vietnamese navy conducts rescue missions with U.S. hospital ship

By Nguyen Dong   July 26, 2016 | 10:44 pm PT
Vietnam is ramping up its maritime might with back-to-back international naval exchanges.

Vietnamese and U.S. medical personnel participated in a disaster medical drill on Tuesday in the central coastal city of Da Nang as part of the multilateral humanitarian and disaster response exercise known as the Pacific Partnership 2016.

On Monday, a Japanese coast guard ship also docked in Da Nang, starting a five-day visit to promote understanding and friendship between the maritime law enforcement forces of the two countries.

Vietnamese navy personnel on the Khanh Hoa worked side by side with the U.S. medical staff in a mock disaster exercise to prepare for both natural and manmade disasters including storms and fires.


The drill took place on the river that flows through the center of Da Nang.

In the first scenario, a tropical storm with wind speeds of 80-100 kilometers per hour hit central Vietnam. Navy ships were then deployed to rescue fishermen who had jumped into the waters in panic.

The Vietnamese government chose Da Nang to host the PP16 - the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drill in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

This is the seventh time Vietnam has taken part in the two-week exercise, and this year is the first time a Vietnamese People’s Navy vessel has been involved in the deployment.


In the second scenario, a fishing boat with 15 people on board seeking shelter from a storm caught on fire due to a short circuit. Many of the crew were severely burnt and stuck inside the ship. Rescue forces including Vietnam Coast Guard officers, firefighters, personnel from Da Nang-based Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre No.2 and medical staff from the U.S. hospital ship the USNS Mercy were immediately deployed to the site.


Rescue forces approached the injured and used pressure hoses to put out the fire. The U.S. navy and Vietnamese border patrol forces used lifebuoys to pull the victims out of the water, before speedboats from the Mercy ferried the victims to shore.


There were four ships, seven speedboats and seven skiffs taking part in the exercise. Local fishermen from Son Tra District acted as mock victims.


Vietnamese and U.S. medical staff tended to the injured people back on dry land.


Badly injured victims were rushed to the Vietnamese Navy hospital ship the Khanh Hoa HQ561 and the USNS Mercy.


Others were put straight into waiting ambulances and rushed to Da Nang’s General Hospital.


“We are proud to have developed the Pacific Partnership program with the aim of handling disasters,” said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius (Left).


Doctors and medical staff on the Khanh Hoa performed an operation through an online consultation with doctors at the Military Medicine Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. 


On the USNS Mercy, victims suffering from burns and broken bones were treated by U.S. medical personnel.

Ambassador Ted Osius said the training exercise was an opportunity for Vietnamese and U.S. military medical staff, along with counterparts from others countries such as Japan, Canada and Australia, to exchange expertise.


The USNS Mercy arrived in Da Nang to participate in the mock rescue of about 50 people. It is the biggest hospital ship in the U.S. Navy with a total patient capacity of 1,000 beds. 

The Pacific Partnership 2016 (PP16), that is running from July 15 to July 28 with the participation of several countries, including Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and the U.K, is led by the U.S. Pacific Fleet with the aim of enhancing humanitarian cooperation, improving regional responsiveness, promoting friendship exchanges and bolstering defense ties with the U.S. and its partner nations. 


An MH-60S sea hawk helicopter assigned to the "Island Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron 25 approaches the flight deck the USNS Mercy during a vertical replenishment. Photos by U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Brittney Vella.

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