Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. The first Pacific Partnership began in response to the December 2004 tsunami, which devastated several areas in South and Southeast Asia. Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance initiative sponsored by U.S. Pacific Fleet. Aimed at improving interoperability between host and partner nations, the team is comprised of volunteers from non-governmental organizations (NGO), representatives from partner nation militaries along with U.S. Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen. While training for crisis conditions, by 2015 Pacific Partnership missions had provided medical care to approximately 270,000 patients and veterinary services to more than 38,000 animals.
The mission evolved over the years from primarily a direct care mission to an operation focused on enhancing partnerships through host nation subject matter expert and civil-military exchanges. Pacific Partnership also capitalizes on multilateral cooperation and partnerships between government and non-government organizations to increase capabilities in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) and preparedness for natural and man-made disasters. The annual multilateral, multi-service mission sees partner nation counterparts working alongside one another to improve disaster response preparedness and enhance relationships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
These humanitarian missions build international relationships and represent a core task in this "Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower." With missions such as Pacific Partnership, the Navy seeks to mitigate human suffering, both in a deliberate, proactive fashion and in response to crises.
Born out of the devastation wrought by a 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of Southeast Asia, Pacific Partnership began as a military-led humanitarian response to one of the world's most catastrophic natural disasters. Building on the success of this operation, the U.S. hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) returned to the region in 2006 for the inaugural Pacific Partnership mission.
In 2006, the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) performed a similar mission in Southeast Asia. That deployment resulted in the treatment of almost 200,000 patients in the Republic of the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Mercy is uniquely capable of supporting medical and humanitarian assistance needs and can rapidly respond to a range of situations on short notice.
In 2007, amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), conducted a four-month humanitarian mission, visiting the Philippines, Vietnam, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. During these humanitarian missions, the Pacific Partnership 2007 team provided a variety of medical, dental, educational and preventive medicine services to more than 31,600 patients. The Pacific Partnership team aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5) concluded its four-month humanitarian mission and departed Marshall Islands 06 September 2007. The team, comprised of an international military and civilian volunteer force, conducted medical and dental outreach missions, provided engineering assistance, and performed several all-volunteer community relations projects during the Marshall Island visit.
In 2008, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), one of the U.S. Navy's two hospital ships, conducted a four-month humanitarian mission, visiting the Republic of the Philippines, Vietnam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. The Pacific Partnership 2008 team provided a variety of medical, dental, educational and preventive medicine services to more than 90,000 patients.
The 2009 mission was based on board USS Dubuque (LPD 8), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock ship homeported in San Diego. This year's mission was more engineering focused, taking advantage of the unique capabilities Dubuque provides to transport and expeditiously unload construction equipment and supplies. Medical and dental civic action programs were conducted ashore. For this mission, Dubuque will be configured with humanitarian civic assistance equipment and a robust multi-specialized team of preventive medicine personnel, veterinarians, medical and dental teams, a construction battalion and engineering personnel.
Pacific Partnership 2010 was the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, host nations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations. Members of Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development joined efforts with Pacific Partnership 2010 for the first time to engage in a three-day conference concerning veterinary care in Quy Nhon, which concluded 06 June 2010.
The Pacific Partnership 2011 team arrived in Dili, Timor-Leste, to begin the fourth phase of its humanitarian assistance/disaster response mission with representatives from Australia, Canada, France, Spain and the United States, 16 June 2011. Amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) is the flagship for the mission. Also, Royal Australian Navy landing craft heavy HMAS Betano (L 133) and HMAS Balikpapan (L 126) will provide transportation services for the team to the more remote parts of Timor-Leste. During the past two months, the Pacific Partnership team had treated more than 20,000 patients, provided 25 surgeries, completed ten engineering projects, cared for nearly 1,000 animals, engaged in nearly 30 community service projects, and developed countless friendships in Tonga, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea.
Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) departed Naval Station San Diego May 3, beginning its part in Pacific Partnership 2012, a four-and-a-half month humanitarian and civic assistance mission to Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. Mercy was crewed by 70 civil service mariners working for MSC who operate and navigate the ship while Navy planners and medical personnel plan and execute the mission. Mercy was scheduled to depart May 1, but a mechanical problem delayed the ship's departure for two days. Pacific Partnership 2012 is a mission that took medical, dental, veterinary, engineering and civic assistance projects to Southeast Asia and Oceania. Japanese landing ship tank Oosumi (LST 4001), carrying a complete medical team, helicopters and representatives from Japanese volunteer organizations, joined Mercy during its stops in the Philippines and Vietnam.
The USS Pearl Harbor left Samoa June 10, 2013 for the next mission port in Tonga. Host nations for this year's mission included Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands and Papua, New Guinea. Pacific Partnership personnel consisting of U.S. armed forces, partner nation military forces and non-governmental organizations conducted various projects throughout Samoa over seven days, including multiple community service projects totaling more than 1,600 man-hours.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), carrying a multinational crew of US, Australian and Japanese personnel, arrived in Sihanoukville 19 June 2014 for Pacific Partnership 2014. The Deputy Commander of Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province, Royal Cambodian Navy Rear Adm. Ros Veasna, and members of his staff welcomed the ship and crew.
The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines, Aug. 4 for the second half of its mission stop in the host nation for Pacific Partnership 2015. While in Subic Bay, medical staff aboard Mercy performed surgical procedures working in conjunction with Operation Smile aboard the ship, and PP15 personnel worked and trained side-by-side with the community on civic service events, safety topics, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, water search and rescue, veterinarian care, and community outreach projects.
The 11th annual Pacific Partnership mission departed the Western Pacific 09 September 2016 after completing mission stops throughout Southeast Asia. The 2016 mission was led by Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, embarked aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). Approximately 1,200 military and civilian personnel from Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States participated for the duration or parts of the four-month mission. Pacific Partnership 2016 visited Dili, Timor Leste; Legazpi, Philippines; Da Nang, Vietnam; Kuantan, Malaysia; and Padang, Indonesia. Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel embarked aboard tank landing ship JS Shimokita (LST 4002) led a mission stop to Koror, Palau. Multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), medical, and civil-engineering teams partnered with their counterparts in each country to conduct live search and rescue field training exercises, subject matter expert exchanges, cooperative health engagements and community relations events.
The USNS Mercy left its home port of San Diego, California, on 23 February 2018, along with the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Fall River. The ships carried some 800 military and civilian personnel from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Peru and Japan. The international team will partner with host nations to provide medical and dental exchanges, along with disaster-response training. USNS Mercy's humanitarian mission in the Pacific, dubbed Pacific Partnership, is the largest annual disaster-response mission in the region. After the mission concludes, the USNS Mercy is expected to travel to Japan before returning to California.
The mission came as a U.S. aircraft carrier is set to make a port call in Vietnam for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War, a signal of strengthening military ties between the former wartime enemies.
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