USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) sits at anchorage in Simpson Harbor off the coast of Rabual during Pacific Partnership. (U.S. AIr Force/Senior Airman Peter Reft)

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea - The hospital ship USNS Mercy ship (T-AH 19) arrived in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, July 5 for the second half of its mission stop in the host nation for Pacific Partnership 2015.

While in Rabaul, PP15 personnel will work and train side-by-side with the community on civic service events, safety topics, medical and veterinarian care, as well as community outreach projects.

See photos of the team's continuing work in Papua New Guinea in the U.S. Pacific Fleet Pacific Partnership Flickr stream.

“All of the medical and dental services will be in collaboration with the host nation and at their invitation. It is important that we train and work side-by-side together, including doctors and nurses in the hospitals and clinics. PP15 allows us the opportunity to prepare in calm for potential crisis in the future,” said Capt. Melanie Merrick, the commanding officer of the medical treatment facility on board Mercy.

Also, the Pacific Partnership crew will work in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby and the host nation government to host two Women, Peace and Security events, including a Women in Leadership Symposium, to discuss topics including economic empowerment, networking, eliminating gender-based violence and mentoring women in leadership.

“We are working with the host nation to empower their women, and the activities going on in Rabaul will focus on key themes of participation, protection and partnership,” said Royal New Zealand Air Force Wing Cmdr. Jennifer Atkinson, the chief of staff for this year’s Pacific Partnership mission.

PP15 participants on the ship and on the ground include personnel from the United States, Australia, Timor Leste, Japan, and New Zealand. The hospital ship arrived with more than 900 personnel, including U.S. Agency for International Development representatives and volunteers from eight non-governmental organizations. All PP15 personnel will work together with the Papua New Guinea government and local community on various medical, dental, veterinary and civic action projects.

“The last time Mercy was in Papua New Guinea was 2008 and Pacific Partnership was here in 2013. So the people of Rabaul can expect to see some of the same types of events and equipment,” said Royal Australian Navy Capt. Brian Delamont, Pacific Partnership’s deputy mission commander. “For instance, we will have our two U.S. helicopters flying from ship to shore and they will be transferring personnel and supplies. The helicopters may fly low over villages, but this is very normal and will be done safely. And recently these same helicopters and crew were instrumental in the rescue and safe return of six Bougainville residents, including an 18-month old infant, when they became lost at sea and then subsequently stranded on Han Island.”

The Mercy crew was in Arawa through July 3, and will be in Rabaul through July 10.

“During our time in Rabaul, we look forward to learning from the professionals and community leaders. We realize that working together now, before a disaster happens, is really the best way to be ready and ensure relief efforts go more smoothly when disaster strikes,” said Capt. Christopher Engdahl, Pacific Partnership 2015 mission commander. “Every event in Rabaul has been crafted at the host nation’s request, ensuring the events meet the needs of the people of Rabaul. And, I have to say, we are very excited. I personally look forward to meeting and working with the Rabaul community leaders and I know our personnel are eager to work alongside the community and tackle these very important projects. We are also eager to meet and become friends with the people of Rabaul. And, of course, to see the beauty of the land!”

Now in its tenth iteration, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. While training for crisis conditions, Pacific Partnership missions have provided medical care to approximately 270,000 patients and veterinary services to more than 38,000 animals. Additionally, the mission has provided critical infrastructure developments to host nations through the completion of more than 180 engineering projects.