Posted July 25, 2010
TERNATE, Indonesia - Pacific Partnership 2010 departed here July 24 after completing seven days of operations alongside the people of Indonesia, providing humanitarian and civic assistance programs ashore and surgical treatment aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and with the logistical support of HMA Ships Labuan (L128)and Tarakan (L129).
Upon completion of the closing ceremony held at Ternate’s City Hall, Mission Commander, Pacific Partnership 2010, Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti immediately headed back to Mercy in order to get underway to Maluku province to continue Pacific Partnership 2010’s participation in Sail Banda 2010.
“During our time in Ternate, we worked hard to reach out across the region, visiting sites on Ternate Island, Halmahera Island, Tidore Island, and even the two villages located on opposite sides of the rugged Mare Island,” said Franchetti. “This visit, as well as our previous stop in Tobelo and Morotai, gave us a great opportunity to learn more about the way of life in a province made up of 805 islands. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed with open arms, and we are all looking forward to the warm reception our advance team personnel have already been enjoying in Ambon – our third and final stop in Indonesia.”
In fact, the mutual sentiment of appreciation and support goes both ways for Pacific Partnership 2010.
At the opening ceremony in Ternate, days earlier, the Governor of North Maluku Province, Dr. H. Thaib Armaiyn, expressed his feelings about Pacific Partnership’s visit.
“I think this mission is such an honorable mission because this mission doesn’t care about the borders, doesn’t care about the race, ethnicity, religion or anything,” said Armaiyn. “We have heard so many good things about this mission. We heard that a lot of people were treated well and that this is such an honorable mission.”
While in Ternate, more than 10,800 patients were treated at nine different primary medical and dental health care clinics and 81 surgeries were conducted aboard Mercy. Medical professionals distributed 6,200 pairs of glasses and sunglasses. Subject matter expert exchanges engaged participants in forums concerning veterinary care, preventive medicine, nursing, cardiology, pediatrics, orthopedics, dental care, and women’s health. Veterinarians were also able to evaluate and treat more than 200 animals during Mercy’s visit. The Biomedical Equipment Repair team was able to conduct over $170,000 worth of repairs to broken or malfunctioning equipment.
U.S. Navy Seabees and Australian Combat Engineers completed two construction projects, including one at Sulamadaha Malaria Clinic and the second at Puskesmas Kalumpang.
While medical civic action programs throughout the region offered medical care opportunities for locals, the events were equally beneficial for Pacific Partnership 2010 medical professionals, such as U.S. Army Spc. Maria Alia Ponciano, a Reservist from Blackfoot, Idaho. Ponciano said she never imagined her first deployment in the Army taking place on a hospital ship.
“Being part of Pacific Partnership 2010 has been a completely different experience, but in a good way. Pacific Partnership is the first time I’ve ever been involved in any sort of disaster relief exercise. Regardless of what organization we belong to, or what country we represent, it is a real honor to take part in this exercise,” Ponciano said.
Community service (COMSERV) projects included a soccer game with the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), which the Pacific Partnership 2010 team lost, and basketball games with fellow sports enthusiasts. For Yeoman 2nd Class Ceroromo Bragg, the basketball games he played in delivered a realization.
“I looked forward to playing basketball in a foreign country to see what people from another part of the world knew about the sport. The game was about having fun and coming together, but even more importantly, it was fulfilling for us to realize this was not about winning a game, but building relationships,” Bragg said.
Having completed medical, dental, surgical, engineering, and community service events in the Tobelo and Morotai areas and now the Ternate area, the hospital ship is transiting to Ambon for the final phase of the Indonesian visit. Mercy will continue participating in the exercise in Ambon through Aug. 4.
Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet endeavors conducted in Indonesia as a disaster relief exercise aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host and partner nations in Southeast Asia and Oceania.