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, June 16.
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.
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 has 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.
“The last three mission ports were a great success, and we are looking forward to continuing the Pacific Partnership mission in Timor-Leste,” said Capt. Jesse A. Wilson, Pacific Partnership mission commander and commander, Destroyer Squadron 23. “Working with the people of Dili, we will provide engineering, dental, medical and veterinary civic action projects and subject matter expert exchanges.”
While the medical teams will begin their work shortly after Cleveland’s arrival, Australian engineers, Timorese engineers and U.S. Navy Seabees are working to renovate a gymnasium, which not only serves as a community center for recreation, but is also an evacuation point in the event of a natural disaster.
“This is a good project for us,” said Lt. Michael Sardone, Pacific Partnership 2011 Seabee contingent officer in charge. “Getting this building renovated is going to give the kids here a good place to play sports, but it’s also going to give them a safe place in the event of a typhoon or other natural disaster.”
Working with the Timorese people provides value to the overall mission by providing a set of circumstances that allow the team to achieve its goals of improved interoperability and a sustainable improvement in the quality of life in Timor-Leste.
“It’s been a true pleasure to work together improving quality of life and interoperability between nations during Pacific Partnership 2011,” said Royal Australian Navy Cmdr. Ashley Papp, commander, Australian Contingent, Pacific Partnership 2011. “Timor-Leste will give us a chance to provide them with sustainable projects, but it will also give the partner nations the chance to work together and learn from the people of Timor-Leste.”
While the engineering and medical civic action projects are important parts of the Pacific Partnership mission, the element of community service is another key component of the mission.
“We have quite a few donations through Project Handclasp,” said Lt. Philip Ridley, Pacific Partnership’s chaplain. “In Timor-Leste we will be distributing medical equipment, toys, water filters, and personal hygiene items which have been donated by people all over the United States. All of the donations are things that will allow the Timorese to take better care of themselves and lead healthier lives.”
During the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, veterinary, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 230,000 people and completed more than 150 engineering projects in 15 countries.
Source: navy, June 17, 2011;