Pacific Partnership visits Malaysia for first time

Hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) sits anchored off the coast of Da Nang, Vietnam during its third mission stop of Pacific Partnership 2016. Photo: US Navy
USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) off the coast of Vietnam during its third mission stop of Pacific Partnership 2016. Photo: US Navy

The annual Pacific Partnership deployment embarked aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Kuantan, Malaysia thereby marking the first time the mission has visited Malaysia, although Malaysia has provided teams to support the mission since 2006.

Malaysian civilian and military leadership led planning activities for Pacific Partnership 2016, where personnel from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the U.S. will work side-by-side with the their Malaysian counterparts, conducting subject matter expert exchanges to improve regional disaster preparedness and resiliency, focusing on multilateral cooperation.

As the fourth mission stop of Pacific Partnership 2016, specific activities include a search and rescue (SAR) seminar followed by a live SAR exercise, medical seminars, civil engineering projects and community service events.

The Pacific Partnership engineering team consisting of U.S. Navy Seabee and Malaysian Armed Forces engineers will renovate two schools while in Kuantan.

Pacific Partnership’s first visit to Malaysia highlights the evolving nature of the mission from past Pacific Partnership missions.

“The unique nature of [the mission] is how this really is an exchange of professionals, of partners,” said Cmdr. Miguel A. Gutierrez, Pacific Partnership’s director of medical operations and planning. “In every country we’ve been to there have been different levels of medical capabilities. Malaysia, by all accounts, has world class medical capabilities, so our big thing here is a focus on high-end medical exchange.”

Kuantan will not only be host to Pacific Partnership 2016, but will simultaneously host the Asia Pacific Military Health Exchange (APMHE) symposium. Mission medical personnel from Medical Treatment Facility Mercy will participate in the symposium, attending lectures both ashore and hosted aboard Mercy.

Pacific Partnership 2016 completed missions in Timor Leste, the Philippines, and Vietnam, with an additional mission operating simultaneously in Palau until Aug. 15, led by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel aboard JS Shimokita (LST 4002).

Upon departure from Kuantan Pacific Partnership 2016 will make its final stop in Indonesia.