Australian first for Pacific Partnership mission

In a first for the Australian Defence Force, Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Tobruk will become the command ship for the US-led humanitarian assistance mission Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10)

The ship is the command platform for the final leg of the six-country PP10 mission in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and will host personnel from the United States Navy, partner nations and non-government organisations onboard.

From 3 September 2010, the multi-national PP10 team will work in the area of Rabaul, PNG, with members of the PNG Defence Force, non-government organisations, and the ship’s company of supporting ship USS Crommelin, to conduct medical, dental, engineering and community service projects.

The command of PP10 from an Australian ship is an exciting time for both Navies said PP10 Mission Commander United States Navy Captain Lisa Franchetti.

“Our two Navies have a close-working relationship participating in various operations and Defence exercises together but this is the first time we will command Pacific Partnership from a non-US Navy ship. The adaptability and professionalism of the ship’s company has made the transition seamless and I am anticipating a positive Command experience aboard Tobruk,” said Captain Franchetti.

Commanding Officer of Tobruk, Commander Paul Scott, said they will depart Darwin tomorrow having conducted personnel exchange and receiving stores for the conduct of the week-long humanitarian assistance effort.

“The transfer of personnel and onload of cargo was conducted safely and professionally. The ship’s company have been preparing for our international guests and are looking forward to enhancing their professional relationships,” Commander Scott said.

Having completed Operation Samoa Assist late last year, the ship’s company will be able to build upon their experience in humanitarian assistance efforts.

“Last year, under a different Commanding Officer, Tobruk delivered more than 500 tonnes of aid to Samoa and Tonga following the tsunami in the region. Unfortunately our region suffers natural disasters and as a consequence our Navy needs to be prepared to respond when the government directs us to,” said Commander Scott.

Approximately 50 ADF personnel have been deployed on USNS Mercy in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and East Timor. HMA Ships Labuan and Tarakan have been providing ship to shore logistical support in Indonesia and East Timor and will continue to do so in PNG.

Pacific Partnership, as it has been known since 2007, has been sponsored annually by the Commander US Pacific Fleet since the devastating effects of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. USNS Mercy was on-scene in early 2005 in response to the tsunami and returned to Southeast Asia in 2006.

Media note:
Commanding Officer HMAS Tobruk, Commander Paul Scott will be available for interview between 1:00pm – 3:00pm today. Contact Lieutenant Kara Wansbury to arrange interview.

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia

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