Pacific Partnership 2016 concludes second mission stop

Hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) sits anchored off the coast of Legazpi, Philippines, during its second stop of Pacific Partnership 2016. Photo: US Navy

Pacific Partnership 2016 departed its second mission stop, the Republic of the Philippines July 11, after completing two weeks of humanitarian assistance and disaster response training, medical subject matter expert exchanges, cooperative health engagements and community relations events.

This year marks the seventh time Pacific Partnership has visited the Philippines since their first visit in 2006. While in Legazpi, Pacific Partnership worked with civilian and military personnel during a five-day humanitarian assistance and disaster response seminar.

“A key aspect of [this stop] was the disaster relief symposium,” said Capt. Mike Spruce, Royal Australian Navy Reserve, deputy mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2016. “The Philippines suffer awful natural disasters, so it’s vital that as partners we know how to work together to enable faster relief.”

The disaster response workshop was co-hosted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Pacific Partnership 2016. Filipino civilian and military personnel worked with the Pacific Partnership team to step through response procedures on disasters such as a Category 5 typhoon striking the city and a volcanic eruption.

In addition to the two workshops, medical personnel embarked aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) conducted SMEEs with their Filipino counterparts on topics such as nursing, blood banking, preventative medicine and engineering. CHEs were held in Ligao City, Tabaco City and Duraga. Each engagement was run by medical personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, local hospitals and Pacific Partnership 2016.

The engineering projects — led by U.S. Navy Seabees, Marines, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines — included the construction and renovation of Mabini water tower, Kinawitan Elementary School and Comun Elementary School, which will now also serve as civilian shelters during disasters.

Community relations events were also held throughout the Legazpi area, bringing the local people and children together with Pacific Partnership 2016 personnel — including U.S. Pacific Fleet Band engagements, soccer, volleyball and basketball matches.

The rock group, “Big Wave,” from the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band played at various locations throughout the city with service members from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

After the Philippines, Mercy will conduct mission stops in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. Pacific Partnership 2016 is focused on enhancing relationships and multinational-interoperability through knowledge exchange and cooperative training, ensuring partner nations are prepared to collectively and effectively respond when disaster strikes.

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