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NEWS | Nov. 14, 2023

Pacific Partnership Returns to Tonga for the First Time in Ten Years

By Ensign Madison Kwok, Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific

Pacific Partnership has arrived in Tonga to conduct the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific, Nov. 13.

Returning to Tonga for the first time since 2013, Pacific Partnership enables participants to work together to enhance disaster response capabilities and foster new and enduring friendships. The mission will be supported by Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor, who also supported the 2013 mission.

At the invitation of Tonga, Pacific Partnership’s mission is to conduct tailored humanitarian and civic preparedness activities in areas such as engineering, disaster response, public health, and Tongan outreach events. This year’s mission, featuring nearly 1500 personnel, was a joint effort on behalf of Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Pacific Partnership creates lasting bonds of friendship and trust between the United States, mission partners and host nations,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Claudine Caluori. “Here in Nuku’alofa, we will demonstrate the spirit of this mission with a united front, with personnel from Tonga, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Chile coming together to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

While in Tonga, Pacific Partnership will provide tailored medical care focusing on subject-matter exchanges and community education, conduct repairs at a local schoolhouse, and lead emergency preparedness training covering disaster response and humanitarian assistance. Additionally, the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, accompanied by members of the Royal Australian, Canadian and New Zealand navies and Scots Guard, will perform in a variety of community engagements.

“The Pacific Partnership embodies the values of compassion, solidarity, and the understanding that no single nation can tackle these challenges in isolation,” stated Honorable Samiu Vaipulu, Acting Prime Minister for the Kingdom of Tonga. “We are presented with the opportunity to refine our capabilities and test our coordination approaches. Let us remember that the safety and well-being of our people depend not only on these coordination mechanisms but the genuine trust and care we share about the building resilient communities in the face of many unknowns that are likely to unfold due to the complex and ever-changing risk environment.

Brad Coley, Chargé d'affaires a.i. of United States Embassy Nukuʻalofa notes: "This year has already been an historic one in U.S.-Tongan relations with the opening of U.S. Embassy Nukuʻalofa in May, Secretary of State Blinken's visit to Tonga in July, and Prime Minister Hon. Hu'akavameiliku's September travel to Washington for the second U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum Summit at the White House. I'm delighted that we are ending this busy and productive year on a high-note with the USS Pearl Harbor visiting Nukuʻalofa at the invitation of Tonga and in partnership with His Majesty's Armed Forces. We are looking forward to a busy and fruitful Pacific Partnership stop in Tonga."

Tonga is the last scheduled stop of the 2023 iteration of the Pacific Partnership mission.

For more information about Pacific Partnership  visit www.facebook.com/pacificpartnership, www.instagram.com/pacific_partnership/ or https://www.dvidshub.net/unit/C-LGWP. Pacific Partnership public affairs can be reached via email at publicaffairs.pp23@gmail.com.

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