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PACIFIC OCEAN - USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) is scheduled to return to its homeport of San Diego Aug. 26 following the completion of Pacific Partnership, U.S. Pacific Fleet's annual annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission, which this year visited the Oceania region.
During the 105-day deployment, the crew of more than 350 Sailors supported non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and regional partner nations to complete projects in Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Tonga.
As part of the mission, medical and dental professionals examined more than 18,500 patients and engaged in hundreds of hours of knowledge exchanges with their host nation counterparts. Veterinary volunteers evaluated nearly 4,100 animals and conducted 981 surgical procedures.
Pacific Partnership 2013 military engineers from the U.S., New Zealand, France, Australia and Malaysia also completed 29 engineering civic action projects, including surveying over 873 acres of underwater anchorages for port safety, and renovating and repairing schools, clinics and hospitals throughout the region.
"I have been amazed by the commitment with which these professionals have poured their knowledge and teamwork into making a lasting impact in these island nations," said Capt. Wallace Lovely, the mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2013. "In this region, it is not a matter of 'if' natural disasters will occur; it's a question of 'when.' And through ongoing missions such as Pacific Partnership, we are able to prepare in calm to respond effectively during crisis."
Lovely said this year's mission differed from previous missions because it focused on preventive medicine and disaster preparedness.
"We focused on subject matter expert exchanges and we provided direct care when we could, but that was not our priority," said Lovely. "We also had a very big footprint in multinational leadership. Our partner nations were involved in every layer of command and control."
This year's mission was the eighth year for Pacific Partnership. Born out of the devastation following the 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of Southeast Asia, Pacific Partnership began as a military-led humanitarian response to one of the world's most catastrophic natural disasters. Over the past eight years the mission has grown to include a number of NGOs and partner nations in addition to the United States.
Joint interagency and international relationships strengthen U.S. Third Fleet's ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.