Commodore, Task Force Forager, Capt. James Meyer, delivers a speech during a ribbon cutting ceremony June 16 at Bikenibeu Primary School.

KIRIBATI - Pacific Partnership 2015 staff gathered June 16 for a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the renovation of Bikenibeu West Primary School in Tarawa, Kiribati.

The ceremony commenced with opening remarks delivered by Capt. James Meyer, Commodore, Task Force Forager, who recognized the efforts of the Seabees, Kiribati locals and volunteers that made the project possible.

“Your outstanding hard work and dedication to the Pacific Partnership 2015 mission is commendable and the reason we are here today,” said Meyer. “Just two weeks ago we began this project, and we are proud of the work we accomplished together. As a team, we accomplished a lot!”

Seabees and volunteers restored the external surfaces and electrical system, installed new water catchment systems, and performed various repairs and improvements to support a comfortable learning environment for the children who attend Bikenibeu West Primary School.

“It was a true honor and privilege to work alongside our Kiribati friends, and we hope that this school will remind you daily of our friendship and the close partnership we have formed.”

The Minister of Education, Maere Tekanene, spoke of the lasting impact that the renovation will have on the students and the community.

“What we are witnessing today is more than we expected in two weeks,” said Tekanene. “I am grateful to Pacific Partnership 2015 for such a great improvement you have made to our school. I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you Seabees who painstakingly worked hard on the renovation, despite the hot weather and all the challenges that came your way.”

She added, “Thank you for your commitment and dedication, which will be vital to the success of your mission.”

Task Force Forager is embarked about the Military Sealift Command joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket and is led by an expeditionary command element from the Navy's 30th Naval Construction Regiment (30 NCR) from Port Hueneme, California. Millinocket is 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 10th 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.