SAN DIEGO (Feb 23, 2011) In this file photo, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7), the lead U.S. vessel for Pacific Partnership 2011, departs Naval Base San Diego to conduct pre-deployment certification exercises. Capt. Jesse Wilson, mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2011, along with his staff, will embark Cleveland for the duration of the humanitarian assistance mission. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell)

SAN DIEGO (NNS) - The amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) departs San Diego March 21 for its final deployment in support of Pacific Partnership 2011.

Pacific Partnership is an annual deployment of forces from the Pacific Fleet, in cooperation with regional governments and military forces, along with humanitarian and non-government organizations.

Cleveland is prepared to transport more than 200 humanitarian aid shipments to several Asian island-nations, including Timor-Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Federate States of Micronesia.

Now in its sixth year, Pacific Partnership 2011 is aimed at strengthening regional relationships with nations that might be called upon to respond to natural or humanitarian disasters in the region. Pacific Partnership is designed to enhance these relationships through medical, dental and engineering projects, as well as subject matter expert exchanges.

The Pacific Partnership 2011 deployment will deliver medical, dental, veterinary and civil assistance, including infrastructure rehabilitation, to those in need across the Pacific. Cleveland's effort is expected to play a crucial role in the continuing mission. In preparation for the task at hand, Cleveland has been conducting training in cross-cultural relations, as well as seamanship and tactical operations.

Cleveland was commissioned April 21, 1967, in Norfolk. Cleveland is the third ship to be named after the city of Cleveland, Ohio. The first was the Protected Cruiser (C-19) from 1903-1929 and the second, a light Cruiser (CL-55) from 1942-1947. Cleveland is scheduled for decommissioning September 2011 after 44 years of service.

Cleveland helps provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile area of responsibility in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.