As requested by some of you brother Navy Dads, I am posting a report on the 2016 USNS Mercy Tiger Cruise my wife, Sharon, and I have recently returned from.
Let me first say that this is our first Tiger Cruise and it was awesome! Please excuse any rookie over enthusiasm that may spill in here.
The Mercy pulled into Pearl on 19 September 2016 and found us rested from a few days of snorkeling and moving to aloha time. We watched the whole arrival from the Arizona Memorial with a number of our favorite cousins, all Navy family. We could have accessed a better vantage point, but since we had spent the morning touring the memorials it made the perfect finale to the experience. FYI, shirts are cheaper at the Bowfin gift shop.
We hooked up with our son later that evening and after 20 days at sea, he was interested in dinner. A good dinner. We were too, so we Nico’s on Pier 38. I think lunch is better there, you should go and decide for yourself.
OK, down to it. After a couple of days of leave for Christian, we all got on board the Mercy late in the evening of Wednesday the 21st. There were four of us Tigers attached to Christian and it was constant fun the whole time.
We spent the first night in our racks, something I thought I’d have some concern over. I loved my rack. I miss my rack. Here is a photo of my rack.
I realized in the morning that I was suddenly in the Navy. Well, the lights coming on at 6am and the air hammers on the hull at 5am that morning led me to think so anyway. Also, finding out that breakfast was OVER at 7am helped a little too.
So we’re up. We’re dressed. We’re fed. Sailors are putting on whites and we’re getting ready to shove off. And it’s only 8am. That’s only significant because we got to watch the preparations for manning-the-rail, then stand with everyone as we departed Pearl Harbor. That is an awesome experience!
We pulled out to sea at steady pace of 13.9 knots and head for San Diego 9 days away.
It would be long and tedious talking about the trip over and you may be bored already, so let me hit the highlights: Sharon and I spent a good amount of time poking around the ship learning and studying for our Tiger Surface Warfare Specialist boards. Yes, real boards, not much murder. Yep, passed. We are official Tiger Surface Warfare Specialists pinned during a final, general, shipwide, rank advancement ceremony on the flight deck conducted by Captain Roberts. It kept us busy, not so much out of trouble. And it was fun!
We had a Mercy’s Got Talent Night, Steel Beach Bar-B-Que, Movie night on the Flight deck (Battleship was the movie, of course), and a number of other fun Tiger activities. The best part of the trip was hanging out with the crew talking about anything and watching that deep water go by. I could do that all day. Oh, and I did some days.
Lastly, closing this on-going post, because the Mercy is different than any other ship in the Navy save the USNS Comfort, here are some factiods for you ship guys: She’s 894’ long, 105’ 9” wide, displaces at 69,360 tons loaded, draft of 33’, a top speed of 17 knots and an endurance of 14,420 miles at 13 knots. She has 15 Wards and 12 Operating Rooms. The kind of medical attention she can deliver is only determined by her medical staff and she is driven by a wonderful, accommodating crew of civilian mariners.
That’s it. More photos below.