USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) sits along the pier at Subic Bay, Aug. 4. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Peter Reft)

SUBIC BAY, Philippines - The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines, Aug. 4 for the second half of its mission stop in the host nation for Pacific Partnership 2015.

While in Subic Bay, medical staff aboard Mercy will perform surgical procedures working in conjunction with Operation Smile aboard the ship, and PP15 personnel will work and train side-by-side with the community on civic service events, safety topics, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, water search and rescue, veterinarian care, and community outreach projects.

“PP15 is such a wonderful opportunity for our medical teams because they get the chance to work side-by-side with the Philippine medical community. We learn so much from each other and this collaboration strengthens our international partnership and better prepares us to respond to natural disasters throughout the region,” said Capt. Melanie Merrick, the commanding officer of Medical Treatment Facility Mercy.

The Mercy crew will host partnership events such as a multilateral leadership forum on gender and development, biomedical repair exchanges, and a disaster risk reduction forum intended to enhance international response to natural disasters.

PP15 participants on the ship and on the ground include personnel from the United States, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, and New Zealand. All PP15 personnel will work together with the Philippine government and local community on various medical, dental, veterinary and civic action projects.

Mercy will depart Subic Bay Aug. 14, and transit to Da Nang, Vietnam, to continue the PP15 mission.

“We value the knowledge and best practices we will exchange in the coming weeks and also the friendships we will undoubtedly make,” said Capt. Christopher Engdahl, Pacific Partnership 2015 mission commander. “Preparing for natural disasters before they happen is vital to the stability of the Pacific region. PP15 allows our nations to better prepare now so that we are able to respond and seamlessly integrate during future relief efforts.”

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.

See photos of the team's work thus far in the Philippines in the U.S. Pacific Fleet Flickr stream.