Capt. James Meyer delivers remarks during the opening ceremony for Pacific Partnership 2015 in the Solomon Islands. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. James Gulliver)

HONIARA, Guadalcanal - Building and sustaining relationships was the underlying theme of the opening ceremony of the Pacific Partnership 2015 mission in Solomon Islands, July 13.

The Military Sealift Command’s joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) arrived July 10 in the Solomon Islands as part of the PP15 mission.

“The relationship between our two countries goes back since the Second World War,” said Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. “I acknowledge the courage and bravery of allied troops along with the local scouts and coast watchers. They fought side-by-side for a more peaceful world in which their younger generations could grow and prosper.”

Sogavare added, “I believe that the values and principles for which they fought are ones that our people in the present age also aspire to live under. In this connection I continue to acknowledge the United States for continuing to make the world a better place to live.”

Further emphasizing the long-standing relationship the two countries have shared, U.S. Ambassador to Solomon Islands Walter North spoke to the people of the Solomon Islands about the shared issues both nations face.

“Solomon Islands and the United States have enjoyed a close relationship since your independence in 1978,” said North. “Our two nations have grown closer in recent years, working together on issues such as adapting to the impacts of climate change, combating deforestation and rural poverty, and spurring economic development.”

North also noted he is excited the Solomon Islands is hosting Pacific Partnership 2015 because it allows for further collaboration on disaster response preparedness.

“This year, Pacific Partnership 2015 continues the annual deployment of United States Pacific Fleet forces in cooperation with regional governments, partner military forces, humanitarian, and non-government organizations,” said North. “Besides providing medical and humanitarian assistance, Pacific Partnership's overarching goal is to improve the interoperability of the region's military forces, governments, and humanitarian organizations during disaster relief operations.”

Millinocket and embarked Task Force Forager, led by an expeditionary command element from the Navy's 30th Naval Construction Regiment (30 NCR) from Port Hueneme, California, are currently serving as the secondary platform for Pacific Partnership 2015. The primary platform for the mission is the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).

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.