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Pacific Partnership Concludes Work in Kiribati

26 July 2013

From Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samantha J. Webb

Pacific Partnership's work in Kiribati — the fifth of six mission ports — was completed July 26.

TARAWA, Kiribati - Pacific Partnership 2013 completed work in the Republic of Kiribati, the fifth of six mission ports, July 26.

Military members from six of 10 mission partner nations and volunteers from several non-governmental organizations participated in engineering, medical, dental, veterinary, disaster response, community relations and civil affairs engagements.

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Damian Rodriguez said that while in Kiribati, he enjoyed seeing the satisfaction of nurses who will be able to utilize a new building he helped construct at the Bairiki Health Clinic. A small multi-national team of engineers demolished the 18-by-13 foot dilapidated building and constructed a new one in 5 days.

"The nurses were cheering and just so happy that the new building was up and running," said Rodriguez.

The amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and the Royal New Zealand diving support vessel HMNZS Manawanui (A09) were both involved in mission activities.

In 1943, Tarawa, now the most populated atoll and capital of Kiribati, was the site of the first American offensive of World War II in the Pacific region.

During Pacific Partnership 2013, New Zealand and U.S. explosive ordnance disposal teams worked together to dispose of more than 300 unexploded ordnance items on Black Beach.

"The beaches of South Tarawa are now safer as a result of the work of the explosive ordnance disposal teams," said Lt. Jeremy Watkins, an operations officer for the mission.

More than 50,000 people now live on Tarawa.

This year marks the first time in the mission's eight-year history that nations other than the U.S. have led phases. New Zealand leaders controlled the Kiribati phase of the mission.

"New Zealand has a long-standing relationship with the people of the Republic of Kiribati," said Royal New Zealand Navy Capt. Tony Millar, deputy mission commander. "It was a great opportunity to be able to coordinate all of Pacific Partnership forces to be able to make the lives of Kiribati citizens better, both immediately in the short term and also for long-term disaster response readiness."

Pacific Partnership 2013 is a collaborative effort of military members and civilians from 10 partner nations including Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and the United States that improves maritime security through disaster preparedness.

This year's host nations include Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

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