Pacific Partnership 2010/USAUSNS Mercy Wraps Up Pacific Partnership Role

DILI, Tim­or-Leste, Aug. 26, 2010 — The hos­pi­tal ship USNS Mer­cy con­clud­ed oper­a­tions here Aug. 24, mark­ing the end of the ship’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2010.

The ship deployed May 1 and it will return its home­port of San Diego in late Sep­tem­ber.

“It is hard to believe that just 11 days ago we opened Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2010 in Tim­or-Leste,” said Navy Capt. Lisa M. Franchet­ti, Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2010 mis­sion com­man­der, dur­ing the mission’s clos­ing cer­e­mo­ny. “We should all take great pride in what we have accom­plished in such a short time.”

Franchet­ti also thanked Tim­o­rese offi­cials and vol­un­teers for their efforts to ensure the mis­sion was a suc­cess.

“Watch­ing Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2010 devel­op from a sim­ple vision of what ‘could be’ to the real­i­ty of see­ing our col­lec­tive teams in action has been a reward­ing expe­ri­ence for me and every­one involved,” she said.

Col. Falur Rate Laek, Tim­or-Leste mil­i­tary chief Of staff, said he was extreme­ly pleased with this year’s mis­sion, the fourth vis­it of this kind to his coun­try. “This coop­er­a­tion is a con­tin­u­a­tion of pre­vi­ous coop­er­a­tions, but this year builds great­ly upon the oth­ers,” he said. “All of the activ­i­ties were per­formed suc­cess­ful­ly, and the work has been fruit­ful.”

Dur­ing the four-and-a-half month deploy­ment, the Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship team con­duct­ed human­i­tar­i­an and civic action activ­i­ties in Viet­nam, Cam­bo­dia, Indone­sia, and Tim­or-Leste. Mer­chant Marine Capt. David Brad­shaw, mas­ter of the Mer­cy, said he was thrilled with the mis­sion.

“Mer­cy is oper­at­ed by the Mil­i­tary Sealift Com­mand and has a crew of 67 civil­ian mariners, 13 of whom have been on board Mer­cy for all of her Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship mis­sions, as well as the response to the Indone­sian tsuna­mi [in 2004 and 2005],” Brad­shaw said.

In addi­tion to the civil­ian mariners, Mer­cy was manned for Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship with more than 1,000 per­son­nel from all four U.S. mil­i­tary ser­vices and 10 part­ner nations, includ­ing Aus­tralia, Cana­da, Cam­bo­dia, France, Japan, New Zealand, Por­tu­gal, South Korea, Sin­ga­pore and the Unit­ed King­dom. Embarked non­govern­ment orga­ni­za­tions includ­ed East Meets West, Inter­na­tion­al Relief Teams, Lat­ter-Day Saint Char­i­ties, Oper­a­tion Smile, Project Hope, Hope World­wide, UCSD Pre-Den­tal Soci­ety, Vets With­out Bor­ders, and World Vets.

The Japan Mar­itime Self Defense Force ship Kunisa­ki and Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy HMA ships Labuan, Tarakan, and Tobruk also par­tic­i­pat­ed in var­i­ous phas­es of Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship. Con­duct­ing surgery on board and set­ting up mul­ti­ple health care clin­ics ashore each day, the Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship med­ical team was able to treat more than 101,000 patients in the four coun­tries, includ­ing more than 20,000 in Tim­or-Leste. The ship’s sur­gi­cal team per­formed 775 life-chang­ing surg­eries dur­ing the deploy­ment, rang­ing from cataract removal and cleft palate/lip repair to ortho­pe­dic surgery and oth­er sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures not read­i­ly avail­able to the peo­ple served.

“Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2010 embod­ied a spir­it of col­lab­o­ra­tion among all par­tic­i­pants, from patients, to part­ner nation col­leagues, to U.S. mil­i­tary and non­mil­i­tary staff,” said Navy Capt. Jef­fery Paul­son, the med­ical treat­ment facility’s com­mand­ing offi­cer. “We worked as a team, learn­ing from one anoth­er and estab­lish­ing a sol­id foun­da­tion for future efforts involv­ing human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance or dis­as­ter relief.”

As part of the med­ical out­reach effort, more than 58,000 pairs of eye­glass­es and sun­glass­es were dis­trib­uted at med­ical civic action projects. Den­tal ser­vices pro­vid­ed on board Mer­cy and at the clin­i­cal out­reach sites pro­vid­ed care for 1,505 patients.

A notable exam­ple of inte­grat­ed med­ical care occurred as the audi­ol­o­gy depart­ment iden­ti­fied chil­dren with treat­able ear prob­lems on shore and brought them on board Mer­cy for care by the ear, nose and throat sur­geon. The bio­med­ical equip­ment repair team repaired 124 pieces of equip­ment, an esti­mat­ed repair val­ue of $5.8 mil­lion.

In addi­tion, the Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship team con­duct­ed a series of sub­ject-mat­ter expert exchanges in each coun­try on top­ics request­ed by the host nation dur­ing the plan­ning process. These events, held on board Mer­cy and ashore in the Dili area, cov­ered a wide vari­ety of top­ics includ­ing first aid, nurs­ing, car­di­ol­o­gy, ortho­pe­dics, nutri­tion, dis­as­ter response, water and food safe­ty and pub­lic health pro­mo­tion. More than 11,000 hours of exchange class­es were attend­ed by 2,350 ser­vice providers across the four coun­tries.

Six­ty com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice projects, the major­i­ty of them at schools and orphan­ages, and six major per­for­mances by the U.S. Pacif­ic Fleet Band through­out the four coun­tries pro­vid­ed addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties to strength­en the bonds between the Unit­ed States and host nations. In addi­tion, dona­tions from Project Hand­clasp, a Navy pro­gram that coor­di­nates trans­porta­tion and deliv­ery of donat­ed human­i­tar­i­an, edu­ca­tion­al and good will mate­r­i­al to needy recip­i­ents in for­eign coun­tries, and Lat­ter-Day Saint Char­i­ties, also pro­vid­ed essen­tial med­ical, com­fort and school sup­plies in each coun­try.

Using three advance fly-in teams, Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship was able to take on exten­sive con­struc­tion and ren­o­va­tion projects, involv­ing the host nations at every step of the way. The 18 engi­neer­ing civic action projects ren­o­vat­ed a vari­ety of struc­tures, includ­ing a school for dis­abled chil­dren in Viet­nam, sev­en clin­ics, and the ren­o­va­tion of the Nu Laran School, a six-build­ing school and com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter com­plex here.

In a project that required more than a year of plan­ning and three months to com­plete, Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Con­struc­tion Bat­tal­ion 11 drilled three wells in Cam­bo­dia, pro­vid­ing thou­sands of peo­ple with read­i­ly avail­able fresh drink­ing water.

“The num­bers of peo­ple we were able to see and projects com­plet­ed real­ly only tell part of the sto­ry,” Franchet­ti said. “What is most impor­tant for the long term are the strong rela­tion­ships we were able to build with our host nations as well as our part­ner nations and [non­govern­ment orga­ni­za­tion] vol­un­teers through­out this chal­leng­ing mis­sion. The skills we have all devel­oped have made us sig­nif­i­cant­ly more ready to respond to a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter or oth­er human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis in the future.”

Although Mer­cy is on its way home, Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship con­tin­ues. Six­ty-four mem­bers of the Mer­cy-based Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship team have trans­ferred to the HMAS Tobruk and are pro­ceed­ing to Papua New Guinea, the last coun­try in this year’s Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship mis­sion. Amphibi­ous Con­struc­tion Bat­tal­ion 1, a 25-mem­ber Aus­tralian con­tin­gent, USS Crom­melin and HMA ships Labuan and Tarakan also will par­tic­i­pate in the 10-day mis­sion to Papua New Guinea.

Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2010 is the fifth in a series of annu­al U.S. Pacif­ic Fleet human­i­tar­i­an and civic assis­tance endeav­ors aimed at strength­en­ing region­al part­ner­ships among host nations, part­ner nations, U.S. gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions, and inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an and relief orga­ni­za­tions.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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