MAJURO, Republic of the Marshall Islands -- Pacific Partnership 2019, the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific, kicked off with an opening ceremony and reception aboard the Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6), March 11.
As USNS Brunswick arrived at its first mission port, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, March 10, military personnel from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, Peru and the United Kingdom are scheduled to take part in a variety of projects to include disaster response seminars and training to improve overall disaster preparedness, sports games and band concerts with local schools, installation of rain water catchment and filtration and community-wide health fairs.
“The Marshall Islands affirm our commitment to the U.S., partner nations and members of this mission,” said the Kalani Kaneko, Minister of Health and Human Services, at the opening ceremony.
“Pacific Partnership 2019 is an indication of the United States’ and other partner countries’ firm desire to further strengthen the partnership with the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other countries in the region through the Indo-Pacific strategy,” he said.
Pacific Partnership in its 14th iteration features two expeditionary fast transport (EPF) catamarans Brunswick and USNS Fall River (T-EPF 4). The EPF features high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability, ideal for fluid missions like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
"Pacific Partnership is a unifying mission that fosters enduring friendships and cooperation among many nations,” said Royal Navy Capt. Paddy Allen, Pacific Partnership 2019 director of mission. “We are excited to be returning for the fourth time to the Marshall Islands, where Pacific Partnership has worked to strengthen ties and build national capabilities and preparedness for disaster emergencies.”
The U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Marshall Islands Karen Stewart said, “When I first arrived here as Ambassador close to three years ago, one of my dreams was to bring Pacific Partnership back to Majuro. At first I thought it was only a dream but my staff and the United States Navy have worked hard to bring the Brunswick and crew and the Pacific Partnership team here.”
She brought attention to one of the Pacific Partnership team members aboard Brunswick, U.S. Army Sgt. Joseia Lemari, a native of Uliga, Majuro, serving as a member of the 130th Engineer Brigade, 84th Engineer Battalion in the construction of a rain water catchment system at Long Island Elementary School.
“I never expected to be part of something as big as Pacific Partnership,” he said. “This mission is why I joined. When I saw military members in their uniforms, I knew I wanted to do something important like that.”
Pacific Partnership began in response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters, the December 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of South and Southeast Asia. The mission has evolved over the years from emphasis on direct care to an operation focused on enhancing partnerships through host nation subject matter expert and civil-military exchanges.
“The people of Marshall Islands especially appreciate the goodwill this Pacific Partnership visit brings,” Mayor of Majuro Atoll, Ladie Jack said. “Pacific Partnership strengthens capacities to build resilience and disaster response preparedness. We are very grateful and very much appreciate the continued support of the United States government to our small island nation.”
Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Kingdom to strengthen disaster response preparedness around the Indo-Pacific.
Pacific Partnership’s mission is to work collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific.