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NEWS | Dec. 4, 2023

Pacific Partnership 24-1 Departs Solomon Islands

By Ensign Lacy Burkett, Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific

Pacific Partnership 24-1 (PP24-1) concluded 14 days of medical, humanitarian and disaster response, engineering, and host nation outreach efforts in the Solomon Islands closing out its second mission stop Dec. 3.

Due to the success of Pacific Partnership 2022, the Solomon Islands government invited the return of USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) for PP24-1, where the team supported the Solomon Islands' medical infrastructure by augmenting local clinics and the National Referral Hospital (NRH) during the 2023 Pacific Games.

“It is a mission that provides services that Solomon Islanders can see, feel and touch its benefits,” said Manasseh Sogavere, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands. “It is a mission that both the people of Solomon Islands and United States of America can be proud of.”

Mercy’s commanding officer believes that the precedent set by last year’s visit to the Solomon Islands demonstrated the benefits multilateral missions like Pacific Partnership present in enhancing partnerships and building mutual understanding with allied nations.

“Mercy being requested by the Solomon Islands to come back during the Pacific Games is a true testament to the value of the multinational cooperation between the United States, Solomon Islands and our partner nations,” said Capt. Jeffery Feinberg, commanding officer of USNS Mercy. “To be back in the Solomon Islands with Mercy is such a surreal feeling.”

Pacific Partnership fosters enduring friendship and cooperation among many nations. During the mission stop, personnel from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Army along with military personnel from Japan, Germany, United Kingdom and New Zealand collaborated with Solomon Island professionals to enhance capabilities across the engineering, humanitarian assistance disaster relief, and host nation outreach lines of effort.

“These are my first surgeries I’ve done in English, so it’s hard for me, but it became a very good experience, a very special experience,” said Lt. Ken Ikegami, a doctor in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. “The treatment of patients in different countries has been my dream since I was a high school student, and this was my dream coming true, so it was very special.”

PP24-1 is a unifying mission bringing allies and partners together to help strengthen relationships, bolster host nation capacity and increase efforts to prepare for humanitarian disasters.

Throughout their 2-week stay in the Solomon Islands, PP24-1 forces conducted more than 352 medical engagements, including 2082 dental procedures. The optometry team distributed more than 3163 prescription glasses and 3780 pairs of sunglasses. Moreover, aboard USNS Mercy, a multinational team of surgeons completed 94 surgeries, while 14 surgeries were performed alongside Solomon Island doctors at National Referral Hospital.

The mission’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response leads conducted one workshop, which included the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office and first responders, and Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 (ACB 1) assigned to PP24-1 led an engineering project at NRH.

While in the Solomon Islands, PP24-1 medical personnel augmented medical support to the Pacific Games, providing 150 event-days of coverage across 17 sites, many of which ran from morning to night. The team delivered approximately 60,000 pounds of ice supplied by Mercy to prevent and treat heat stress injuries. The medical team also boosted the capacity of the Australian security forces by providing 14 days of continuous role II/III surgical coverage to a 500-person multinational security force supporting the Pacific Games.

In addition to events in Honiara and Guadalcanal Province, Pacific Partnership activities included 15 courses and multispecialty medical expert exchanges in Gizo, Auki, and NRH and 10 concerts performed by the PP24-1 Band, comprised of members from the U.S. Pacific Fleet and Royal Australian Navy bands.

Now in its 19th iteration, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. Pacific Partnership works collaboratively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase security and stability in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships in the Indo-Pacific.

For more information about Pacific Partnership and USNS Mercy, visit www.facebook.com/pacificpartnership, www.facebook.com/USNSMERCY, or https://www.msc.usff.navy.mil/ships/mercy

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