We have done stories about the United States Navy’s Hospital Ships in the past. This story deals with one of the unique elements of these ships, and with a first-time landing on a USNS Hospital Ship, in this case, the USNS Mercy, by a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
The MV-22 Osprey is a unique aircraft all by itself, having the ability to land and take off vertically, then to rotate the wings to fly like a fixed-wing aircraft. It is one of the Marine Corps’s workhorse platforms to deliver Marines, supplies, and equipment from aircraft carriers to and from land-based missions. It can also be used as a medevac transport. This is why this exercise in this video is an important one.
When I was in Vietnam in 1968, I came down with malaria and was transported to the USNS Sanctuary at sea by a Marine Corps CH-47 helicopter. I was delirious at the time, so don’t remember the flight or the landing, but watching this video gave me a real insight into what the ship’s crew and the V-22 pilot have to deal with just to land on a moving ship at sea. The MV-22 Osprey wasn’t around at that time, but it has been an important air asset for the Corps since 1999.
There is no dialogue here, just a very impressive video. The MV-22 Osprey is a big aircraft. It doesn’t look like a helicopter, yet it can perform like one. Its wings are in the vertical landing position here, and you can see its approach to the USNS Mercy’s flight deck. But I was most fascinated by the ship’s landing crew during this landing operation. The wash from the two big rotors of the MV-22 is like being in a gale-force wind, but they handle it like business as usual.
The landing crew chief is giving the signals, directing the pilot to the landing zone, giving him another perspective to judge his landing on the rolling ship’s deck. He is being held by the back of his gear by another sailor, and the two of them are being hit by the forces of that downdraft from the Osprey.
Keeping their feet is a real effort as the crew chief tries to keep signaling to the pilot his position relative to the deck. Thankfully, it was a sunny day with calm seas. One can only imagine how much more difficult it would be in less amenable weather.
The Osprey is refueled after landing by the ship’s flight deck crew and then takes off after the successful operation is completed. This was the first time that the Osprey has landed on a Hospital Ship flight deck. It makes it possible for the Osprey to be yet another means to transport the sick and the wounded to the care available on these modern well-equipped Navy Hospital Ships.
Enjoy the visuals of this video.Whizzco