SOLOMON SEA - A contingent of Australian Defence Force and U.S. Pacific Partnership 2010 participants aboard HMAS Tobruk (L50) arrived in Port Moresby Aug. 31 on its way to Rabaul in East New Britain in support of Pacific Partnership 2010.
Tobruk is now hosting the command element for the final leg of the six-country Pacific Partnership 2010 mission, which will be conducted in East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. Previously, the Military Sealift Command’s hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) was the lead vessel for the mission. Mercy is currently transiting to her homeport of San Diego after the successful completion of her role in Pacific Partnership 2010.
The multi-national Pacific Partnership 2010 team, which includes personnel from the Australia Defence Force (ADF), Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), the U.S. Navy, and four non-governmental organizations, will provide medical, dental, engineering, and community service programs. Tobruk will be joined in Rabaul by USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), whose Sailors will also be participating in the mission.
While conducting the brief stop in Port Moresby, the U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Teddy Taylor, had the opportunity have lunch on Tobruk and meet the team in person.
“Pacific Partnership is one of the best examples of how the U.S. government is engaging with local governments in the region. I think it reflects the strong U.S. commitment to the region and, while it is a military led effort, it underscores the comprehensive U.S. involvement in humanitarian and social development projects,” said Taylor. “The U.S. is here to help whether for health education, the advancement of women’s rights, and the adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of climate change.”
This final leg of Pacific Partnership 2010 not only offers the Royal Australian Navy the opportunity to increase their participation in the mission, but also extends that same opportunity to the members of the Australian Regular Army (ARA) and the Australian Second Combat Engineer Regiment.
Pacific Partnership 2010 Mission Commander, Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti, said leading Pacific Partnership 2010 from an Australian ship is an exciting time for both Navies.
“Our two navies have a close working relationship, and this is the first time we will command Pacific Partnership from a non-US Navy ship. The adaptability and professionalism of Tobruk’s crew has made the transition from Mercy seamless,” said Franchetti.
The arrival of Pacific Partnership 2010 in Papua New Guinea offers two close neighbors the opportunity to strengthen relationships that would ultimately serve them well in a time of need.
“Our people will work closely with PNGDF personnel and members of the Pacific Partnership team to achieve the mission,” said Cdr. Paul Scott, commanding officer of Tobruk, “We are all anticipating the rewards that come with this type of work, particularly operating with neighboring Defence Force personnel.”
Tobruk is scheduled to initiate the mission in Rabaul when she arrives Sept. 3. During Pacific Partnership 2010’s other efforts, Mercy visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste. USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visited Palau.
Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among host nations, partner nations, U.S. government organizations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.