In this file photo, Royal Australian Air Force Flying Officer Shaun Robertson, left, and U.S. Navy Hospitalman Jacob Hyatt prepare to shift colors as USNS Mercy makes a port visit following an earlier phase of Pacific Partnership 2012. (Photo by Kristopher Radder)

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - The Military Sealift Command's hospital ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Cambodia July 28 to begin the final mission phase of Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12).

This is the U.S. Pacific Fleet's seventh annual Pacific Partnership humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) mission.

Prior to arriving in Cambodia, Mercy and her PP12 embarked personnel visited the host nations of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The four-and-a-half month mission supports strengthening regional partnerships and enhancing coordination efforts among organizations who share a common interest in maintaining stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Our crew of more than 1100 highly trained military, government, and civilian/NGO personnel representing eight partner nations are excited to be in Cambodia," said Mission Commander, Navy Capt. James Morgan. "Our mission here provides yet another opportunity to work with our Cambodian counterparts in order to be better prepared to respond together to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies, not if but when they happen."

"We sincerely appreciate the invitation to conduct the mission here during what will be the second time Pacific Partnership has taken part in activities in Cambodia," said Morgan.

Pacific Partnership 2012 is led by three different element commanders: Capt. James Morgan, mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2012 and commander of the San Diego-based Destroyer Squadron SEVEN; Capt. Jonathan Olmsted, of the Military Sealift Command and Mercy's civil service master; and, Navy Capt. Timothy Hinman, commander of the medical treatment facility, which is responsible for the hospital and providing care aboard Mercy and on shore.

"The professional affiliation and exchanges that we've seen on this mission between our host nation and Pacific Partnership providers have been outstanding this year," said Capt. Hinman. "It has been truly stimulating for us and we look forward to working on the same type of medical exchanges here in Cambodia."

PP12 personnel will conduct tailored civic assistance projects (CAPs), which build relationships and potential capacity and capabilities in the areas of medical, dental, veterinary and civil engineering. It will also conduct community service and subject matter expert exchanges that reinforce the importance of mutual support and learning about cultures, capabilities, and practices.

The U.S. joint military services, interagency and civilian mariner personnel are joined this year in Cambodia by the partner nations of Australia, Canada, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, and the Philippines.

NGOs and international agencies are also a critical part of the continuity of the Pacific Partnership mission, which strives to build capacity with local populations. This year, NGOs participating in Cambodia include Cambodian Children's Painting Project, Global Grins, Help for Orphans, Hope Worldwide, Latter Day Saint (LDS) Charities, M'lop Tapang, Project Handclasp, Project Hope, Reproductive Health, The Starfish Project, UCSD Pre-Dental Society, Univ. of Hawaii Engineers, Univ. of Hawaii Nursing, and World Vets.

Rear Adm. Russell Penniman, Reserve Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff for the U.S. Pacific Fleet is visiting Mercy to observe the PP12 mission, and will represent the Pacific Fleet staff at the opening ceremony on July 29, at the Port of Sihanoukville.

"The mission is Pacific Partnership, so it's partnership with partner nations, NGOs, and doctors who all work in a common field, whether military or civilian doctors," said Penniman. "We welcome the collaboration, because as a collective, the total will be greater than its individual parts...especially when a natural disaster strikes."

For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.