A World Vets volunteer mans the rails aboard USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) as the ship departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam May 25. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) departed its namesake May 25 for Samoa, the first mission port of Pacific Partnership 2013.

Conducted annually since 2006, Pacific Partnership is the largest disaster preparedness response mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. The mission was born after U.S. military responded to the needs of people in Southeast Asia following the devastating tsunami in 2004.

Samoa is scheduled to be the first of many mission ports including Tonga, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, and the Solomon Islands.

After a visit to the ship on Friday, Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said he was impressed by the enthusiasm displayed for Pacific Partnership 2013, an important deployment that both builds relationships and improves the multilateral approach needed to successfully respond in the eventuality of a regional crisis or disaster.

"It builds trust, enhances cooperation and opens dialogues between leaders," Haney said of the mission's multilateral approach, "That benefits all Pacific nations including the United States."

This year's mission will partner the U.S. Navy with non-governmental organizations and regional partners including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand to improve maritime security, conduct humanitarian assistance and strengthen regional disaster response preparedness. Partner nations will lead individual phases for the first time in the history of the mission.

A Sailor handles lines as USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52) prepares to depart from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, May 25. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Johans Chavarro)
Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, addresses Pacific Partnership 2013 personnel at an all hands call aboard USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), May 24. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee)