SAN DIEGO (Feb 23, 2011) The amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7), the lead U.S. vessel for Pacific Partnership 2011, departs Naval Base San Diego to conduct pre-deployment certification exercises. Capt. Jesse Wilson, mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2011, along with his staff, will embark Cleveland for the duration of the humanitarian assistance mission. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell)

PEARL HARBOR (March 2, 2011) - U.S. Pacific Fleet’s humanitarian assistance mission, known as Pacific Partnership, is preparing to set sail on a four-month deployment for Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and the Federated States of Micronesia on March 21, 2011.

Now in its sixth year, Pacific Partnership 2011 is aimed at strengthening regional relationships with Southeast Asian and Oceanian nations which might be called upon to respond to natural or humanitarian disasters in the region. Pacific Partnership is designed to enhance these relationships through medical, dental and engineering projects, as well as subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs).

"Since the 2004 Tsunami that caused profound suffering in several South East Asian countries, we have learned that by working together we are better prepared to overcome the considerable challenges caused by natural disasters," said U.S. Navy Capt. Jesse Wilson, Pacific Partnership 2011 Mission Commander, and Commander of Destroyer Squadron 23.

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7) is the lead U.S. vessel. Ships from Australia, Japan, and New Zealand, and a helicopter crew from France, will join Cleveland during different phases of the mission. Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, and Spain will also deploy teams to support the mission.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will embark on board Cleveland to partner with its crew to provide medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering services to local communities identified by host nations.

In addition to medical and engineering infrastructure projects, partner nations and NGOs will work with their host nation counterparts on developing sustainability projects and SMEEs on a range of topics, including methods of recycling, clean water practices, and alternative energy initiatives.

“Our goal is to build sustainable partnerships and projects that will strengthen alliances while working to prevent or mitigate humanitarian disasters,” said Capt. Wilson.

Over the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 300,000 patients in 13 countries. More than 130 engineering projects in more than a dozen countries have included school refurbishment and construction of entirely new clinics for providing essential medical services to remote villages and communities.

For more news from Pacific Partnership, visit the mission's website and blog. Connect with Pacific Partnership on Facebook, and Twitter.