HADR exercise Pacific Partnership 2018 concludes

The humanitarian assistance and disaster relief readiness exercise Pacific Partnership 2018 concluded June 2 as US Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) departed Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) during its first mission stop of Pacific Partnership 2018. Photo: US Navy

This mission in Nha Trang included personnel from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force embarked in JDS Osumi (LST 4001) and team members assigned to USNS Brunswick (T-EPF-6).

“We are very grateful to the people of Vietnam for providing us an opportunity to learn from them,” said Capt. David Bretz, Pacific Partnership mission commander. “We see our differences in culture and training as something to be celebrated, as anyone would appreciate the unique qualities of a friend. This was a very productive mission for the US, Vietnam, Japan, and all participating partner nations.”

During the mission in Nha Trang, the mission’s medical professionals worked alongside Vietnamese medical personnel engaging in patient care activities, community health and surgical exchanges, and symposia in various medical disciplines.

Mission civil engineers built and repaired schools and medical clinic facilities alongside their Vietnamese counterparts and held workshops to discuss methods to build resilient facilities that can withstand inclement weather and tropical storms. Additionally, subject matter experts from the mission conducted workshops highlighting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) topics including swimmer safety, urban search and rescue, and a six-day beach course for lifeguard teachers. Mission personnel also set up training scenarios covering response to severe flooding and other natural disasters.

When not participating in training, mission members attended community outreach events such as concerts put on by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band at various locations, sporting events, arts and crafts for children with disabilities, and beach clean-up events.

“The United States appreciates the Government of Vietnam’s close cooperation and support throughout Pacific Partnership 18. Having U.S. and Vietnamese personnel work together on such a broad range of events highlights that we have forged a strong and lasting Comprehensive Partnership – one that benefits not just our two countries, but the entire Indo-Pacific region,” said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink.

During Pacific Partnership 18, USNS Mercy and USNS Brunswick conducted visits to different nations in the Indo-Pacific region, increasing the reach and scope of participants and host-nation counterparts to conduct technical expertise exchanges in medical, engineering, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. Pacific Partnership personnel aborad Mercy made mission stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, while those on USNS Fall River visited Yap, Palau, Borneo-Malaysia, and Thailand.