SAMAR, Philippines - Service members and civilians aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) participated in a closing ceremony July 1, after a two-week visit to the host nation of the Philippines July 1, in support of Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12).
During the Philippines mission, the PP12 team conducted six medical civic action programs (MEDCAP); five biomedical equipment technician (BMET) exchanges; 11 veterinarian civic action programs (VETCAP); four civil engineering civic action programs (ENCAP), and numerous other medical services, subject matter expert exchanges, and community service engagements in the region of Samar. (See Pacific Partnership - Philippines By the Numbers for a full recap.)
"What the last few weeks of this mission has reinforced with me is that the benefit of shared experiences strengthens and builds the trust and confidence that is necessary for responding together in times of adversity and human suffering," said Capt. James Morgan, mission commander.
Samar, Philippines was the second of four mission ports for PP12 and finished with great results.
Aboard the USNS Mercy, which was anchored one mile off the Calbayog City pier, more than 1,200 crew members of the PP12 team spent 14 days working in the region of Western Samar, spanning cities and towns from San Isidro to Catbalogan City.
The multinational, multi-organizational crew of host and partner nations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worked in the fields of medical and dental, veterinarian, civil engineering, subject matter expert exchanges, and hosted community service and donation events.
"Pacific Partnership has brought together the very best military, humanitarian, governmental and non-governmental agencies we and the international community have to offer," said Rear Adm. Matthew Carter, commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Fifth/Seventh Fleet. "These groups are made up of tireless, dedicated, incredibly knowledgeable individuals."
They also conducted 18 community service projects in the areas of sports and recreation, donated items and 14 band performances.
The mission participated in 17 major subject matter expert exchanges allowing this year's mission to continue building on established best practices for all of the countries involved.
The goal of PP12 is to take part in a humanitarian and civic assistance mission that brings together U.S. military and civilian personnel, host and partner nations, non-government organizations and international agencies to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities.
Working together as an integrated team and at the invitation of the Philippine government, Philippine military and civil service personnel worked alongside the partner nations of Australia, Canada, Great Britain, France, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and the United States; the NGOs of Bugto, Calbayog Rotary Club, Catbalogan Fire Brigade, Fit for School, Global Grins, Latter Day Saints Charities, Project Handclasp, Project Hope, Univ. of California San Diego Pre-Dental Society, University of Hawaii Schools of Engineering and Nursing, Western Samar Development Foundation and World Vets; and, Joint and Interagency teams from the United States Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, Departments of State, Justice, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Approximately 70 professional civilian mariners also ensured the safety and navigation of the USNS Mercy.
The remaining Pacific Partnership 2012 mission ports include the Vietnam and Cambodia. Through active engagement with host nation officials and militaries, subject matter expert exchanges, civil action projects and medical exchanges, the mission will continue to build the regional partnerships and collective abilities needed to respond to natural disasters. Sponsored by the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet and now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual humanitarian civic assistance mission in the Asia-Pacific Region.