A combined team of engineers and Royal Tongan Marines cut pillars at the Atele Primary School during a Pacific Partnership engineering project. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tim D. Godbee)

ATELE, Tonga (June 17, 2013) - Royal Tongan Marine engineers are rebuilding the Atele Primary School with the assistance of Pacific Partnership French Army engineers, New Zealand Army engineers, U.S. Navy Seabees and U.S. Marine Corps engineers, as part of Pacific Partnership 2013.

The rebuild is scheduled to consist of replacing two collapsed roofs, improving the schools existing electrical infrastructure, installing two water tanks, remodeling the school's interior and repainting the school's exterior.

U.S. Navy Seabee, Builder 2nd Class John Llewellyn, one of the site supervisors said the project is scheduled to take two weeks to compete. "We're about 75 percent done with the project. We normally have between 15 and 25 persons on site everyday, so we're right where we're supposed to be in meeting our deadline."

Led by Royal Tongan Marine engineers, the project is a collaboration of military engineers from four different nations to improve Tonga's infrastructure, give the Atele community a place for their children to learn and serve as a disaster relief facility in the event of an emergency.

"It's good to working with everyone and despite the occasional language barrier, once you get the message through then everything works itself out," said New Zealand Army Lance Cpl. Michael Noddings, an engineer on site in Atele. "It's good knowing that you're helping out the people and giving them more classrooms and better facilities."

Llewellyn said that all of the engineers on site are more alike than different and construction is universal no matter what language is spoken. "Right now everyone's meshing well, everyone has an assigned task and we're going to work," added Llewellyn.

Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand to strengthen disaster response preparedness around the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.