FOR PUBLIC RELEASE - LTJG Joe Vasquez Public Affairs Officer USNS Mercy, T-AH 19 e-mail:

The USNS Mercy hospital ship docked in Honolulu on Saturday March 3 with a plan to conduct a VE session for 19 ship personnel at 10:00.  It is a short stay in Honolulu as the ship departs on March 5th for a 5 month trip around the Pacific for medical engagement exercises, called Pacific Partnership 2018, with other countries. The ship departed San Deigo on the 23rd of February and had two personnel on board who coordinated classes, twice a day for 4 hours each sessions. The sailors where so busy they had to conduct two sessions a day to fit into he schedule and were assisted enroute by Timothy Miller, AJ7UU & Douglas Smith, W7KF. Ed Stanwood (KH6GMB), Joseph Speroni, AH0A and Stacy Holbrook, KH6OWL, conducted a test session for the personal on board the ship. 

USNS Mercy website provides some statistics that are pretty impressive. 17 stories high, 894 feet long, fits through the panama canal by 6 inches on each side, has a blood bank capacity of 5000 units, and is a trauma level 1 hospital capable of holding 1000 patients.

USNS Mercy in Hawaii

The VE Team meet at 9 AM and was escorted through the gate at Pearl Harbor and to the ship. Things were delayed a bit as the ship was a little late getting into port  Operators who assisted were AH6VF, KH6GMB, KH6OWL, KH6WG, WH6FNE, W7KF/MM and AH0A.

A total of 19 candidates registered for the session and got there FRN number so the paperwork could be printed before hand and so the VE’s didn’t have to worry about social security numbers. There were to be 16 Technician, 16 General and 2 Extra tests to score. We also had several walk-ins. A total of 34 exams were administered through the day based on walk ins. Seven candidates did not earn an upgrade or initial license at this session.

The world of amateur radio has 12 new technicians and 2 new generals license operators.

Amarture Radio Testing in the ICU – 2

After the examination was complete the VE team took photos with the personal who tested, to include the ships Captain, WH6FIR. The Captain upgraded to general and we actually tested him for his technician license on board the USS Missouri as the first test session on that ship.


The radio room on board just for the amateur operators was an impressive thing to behold.  A Flex-6700, 2 ICOM IC-7200’s.sevearl UHF/VHF radios and 3 modems. When out to sea they run the RMS software and APRS, They find most places they go to use HF and have very little contact with the local population on UHF/VHF.

Radio Rack on Board USNS Mercy
Flex Radio System Software

Our tour was led by Neil, K6NRT. Neil has been on board the ship for 12 years and is knows almost all their is to know about the ship and runs the IT systems.

Neil, K6NRT, points out the antennas on top of the Shack.

The exam was given in Pearl Harbor and from the top deck you can see the USS Missouri and the Pearl Harbor Memorial on the USS Arizona on to the port side.

USS Missouri and Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, HI

The Mercy was born out of an Oil Tanker, SS Worth, and converted in 1984 and 1985.

USNS Mercy as the Oil Tanker, SS Worth

The picture below is when it was under going the transformation. You can see to the right of the ship the hospital decks were being built and would be lifted into place once completed.


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Slide show of all photos I took that day.

Stacy Holbrook