PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Preparations are underway to conduct the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) endeavors, known as Pacific Partnership 2010, to the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia.
Pacific Partnership, which is scheduled to take place between June and September 2010, is aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host nations and partner nations in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Pacific Partnership is designed to enhance these relationships though medical, dental and engineering outreach projects that reinforce the mutually supporting roles between participants. Another benefit is to help participants practice the skills that would be called upon in response to a disaster.
"The world we live in today is more interconnected than before, and we have learned that by working together we are better prepared to overcome challenges such as natural disasters," said U.S. Navy Adm. Patrick Walsh, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "Partnership and cooperation are key to success in a crisis."
An unprecedented six-nation visit will be conducted this year. The Military Sealift Command's hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), as the lead vessel, is scheduled to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Two additional visits are scheduled to Palau and Papua New Guinea by other Navy ships.
"A mission of this scope and magnitude requires cooperation and collaboration across a broad spectrum of multinational agencies and organizations, all of whom set the stage to make Pacific Partnership both possible and successful," said Walsh.
Pacific Partnership also improves the ability of the U.S. and regional countries to prepare for and better respond to disasters, such as pandemic illness, typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis.
U.S. Naval forces have responded to numerous natural disasters over the years and each response has highlighted the importance of establishing relationships prior to such events. Pacific Partnership strengthens these long-term relationships by building international teams of both military and civilian specialists to deliver valuable medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services to local communities identified by the host nation.
"Ultimately, we will form stronger relationships in the region and continue to build on the foundation set by previous HCA missions," Walsh said. "It comes down to commitment, and we're eager to once again demonstrate our long standing support to the people in the region."
Over the past four years, Pacific Partnership has provided a variety of medical, dental, educational and preventive medicine services to more than 150,000 patients in 10 countries. More than 70 engineering projects in more than a dozen countries have included school refurbishment and construction of entirely new clinics for remote villages.
For more news from Pacific Partnership, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacificpartnership/.