TARAWA, Kiribati - Task Force Forager embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) wrapped up its first visit of Pacific Partnership 2015 with a closing reception June 17.
While only in the Republic of Kiribati for 15 days, the crew made a significant impact on the small island nation.
“A little over two weeks ago we began our mission in Kiribati, and today we stand proud of what we have achieved together,” said Commodore, Task Force Forager, Capt. James Meyer.
Medical, engineering, veterinary, band, and dental teams spent countless hours among the local community conducting engagements and various outreach events.
Seabees renovated Bikenibeu West and Temwanoku Primary Schools, resulting in improved classrooms and buildings for more than 1,400 students.
The medical teams completed more than 200 collaborative health engagements, 1,100 exams and engaged with approximately 2,000 people.
These medical engagements resulted in improved healthcare awareness, life saving courses for first responders, information exchanges in multiple disciplines in the medical field and direct patient care. Additionally, veterinary teams completed 500 procedures.
“The medical team helped better equip Kiribati medical professionals and the Kiribati healthcare system with the knowledge and information necessary to build their capacity to respond to a multitude of disasters,” said Meyer.
The Pacific Partnership Joint Band conducted 28 performances and entertained approximately 10,500 people.
An Army civil affairs team conducted numerous classes, exchanges, workshops, and community engagement activities reaching well over 500 of Kiribati’s key leaders.
“Pacific Partnership isn’t just about the work accomplished, it is also about the relationships built, partnerships developed, and our increased ability to work together as global neighbors, especially during times of crisis,” said Meyer.
Meyer spoke of the warm welcome that Task Force Forager received in Kiribati. To the Kiribati people, he had these heartfelt words.
“Everything we have accomplished has truly been a team effort,” said Meyer. “The reception and welcome we received was overwhelming. Your kindness and hospitality is truly unforgettable and has touched everyone on our team. We have learned what generosity and hospitality really mean.”
Meyer continued, “As we depart Kiribati, I believe I speak for all of our team when I say that we are not just leaving behind some renovated schools, enhanced medical skills, and improved disaster response plans, but we are leaving behind a part of our hearts.”
See photos of the team's work in the U.S. Pacific Fleet Flickr stream.
Millinocket departed Kiribati June 18 and is currently en route to the Federated States of Micronesia.
Task Force Forager 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 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.