ESPIRITU SANTO, Vanuatu
– The amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7), part of the Pacific Partnership 2011 team, pulled into port off the coast of Espiritu Santo April 28, to begin the second phase of the 2011 mission with representatives from Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, and the United States.
The USS Cleveland (LPD 7), which is the flagship for Pacific Partnership 2011, houses the command staff, the crew, representatives from non-government organizations (NGOs), Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen from each of the partner nations participating in Pacific Partnership 2011.
“We are all very eager to begin our mission in Vanuatu,” said Capt. Jesse A. Wilson, Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 and mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2011. “While Vanuatu and the U.S. have a history together dating back to World War II, this is the first time we have had the opportunity to include Vanuatu as one of our host nations. I am grateful for the opportunity to come to this nation, which was so vital to the Allied victory in the Pacific.”
New Zealand has multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury (L421) moored pierside in Espiritu Santo. Towards the end of the Tongan portion of Pacific Partnership, Wilson shifted his command and a portion of his staff to Canterbury in order to have a first-hand look at operations conducted from there. This would be the first time a U.S. naval afloat command shifted its pennant to a New Zealand ship.
In Santo, partner nations and NGOs of Pacific Partnership will engage in engineering, dental, medical and veterinary civil assistance projects and subject matter expert exchanges designed to increase interoperability between host nations and partner nations. The combined team of Pacific Partnership and host nations will also develop sustainable solutions for environmental and social challenges in the region.
“Working with the ni-Vanuatu is an exceptional opportunity,” said Royal Australian Navy Cmdr. Ashley Papp, Commander Australian Contingent, Pacific Partnership 2011. “While we do hope to teach, heal and build, I firmly believe that we, the partner nations, will learn many valuable lessons.”
Pacific Partnership 2011 concluded its mission in Tonga April 22, and after the mission in Vanuatu, will continue on to Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The Pacific Partnership mission engaged local leaders, treated 3,806 patients, 819 of which were children, cared for 163 animals, completed seven engineering projects, including school buildings, bathrooms and a water catchment system, and engaged in several community service projects while in Tonga.
Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance mission sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, designed to enhance relationships in the region and interoperability with partner nations.
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