On June 27, U.S. Navy ships moved from East Timor to the Philippines for another leg in the annual U.S.-led Pacific Partnership mission, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region.
Pacific Partnership, led by the U.S. Navy in partnership with other like-minded countries and non-governmental organizations, sees the combined force visiting several host nations every year and engaging in a variety of local outreach efforts to improve boost capabilities, build relationships and bolster collective ability to respond to natural disasters. It began in 2006 following the December 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Southeast Asia.
The 2016 iteration of Pacific Partnership arrived in Legazpi, Philippines on June 27 on board the USNS Mercy, where it will remain until July 11. This is the seventh time Pacific Partnership has visited the Philippines since 2006.
According to a statement released by the U.S. Navy, while in Legazpi, Pacific Partnership will see a range of activities including a five-day HA/DR seminar covering response procedures on disasters such as typhoons and volcanoes, cooperative health engagements, engineering construction and renovation projects at local schools, and community relations events including band concerts led by the Pacific Fleet Band.
Medical personnel on board Mercy will also have the opportunity to conduct subject matter expert exchanges with their Philippine counterparts on a wide range of topics including nursing, blood banking, preventive medicine and engineering.
This year, on this leg there will also be a Women, Peace and Security seminar focused on enhancing collaboration with gender awareness and development efforts, in concert with broader international efforts at highlighting the role of women in peace and disaster relief. Overviews of related international initiatives as well as the United Nations directive on the subject will be presented during that seminar.
Mercy will then depart Legazpi and transit to Da Nang, Vietnam to continue its mission. Pacific Partnership 2016 will also see mission stops in Malaysia and Indonesia.