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NEWS | Dec. 21, 2023

USNS Mercy arrives in the Republic of Palau for Pacific Partnership 24-1

By Lt.Cmdr. Cheryl Collins, Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific

The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived Dec. 21 in the Republic of Palau to begin the fourth mission stop of Pacific Partnership 24-1, the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region. This marks the sixth time Pacific Partnership has come to Palau, the previous visit was in 2022.

At the invitation of host nations, Pacific Partnership’s mission partners will conduct tailored humanitarian civil action preparedness activities in areas such as engineering, disaster response, public health, and host nation outreach events.

This year’s mission will feature military personnel from Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand. The Pacific Partnership 24-1 mission has completed stops in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. Its final mission stop will be in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia.

“The United States is committed to the people of Palau as we share deep ties and a long-standing friendship that spans decades”, said U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Palau, Joel Ehrendreich. “Pacific Partnership allows us to work shoulder-to-shoulder as friends and partner nations to collectively grow our ability to quickly respond to disasters or medical emergencies, if and when that comes to the Indo-Pacific region.”

USNS Mercy will anchor off the state of Koror with a team of more than 750 civilian crew members and uniformed military members. The ship has 12 fully equipped operating rooms, 1,000 hospital beds, radiological services, a dental clinic, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, optometry facilities, a CT scanner, and an oxygen-producing plant.

During the Palau mission stop, the Pacific Partnership team will conduct community health engagements in Koror, Peleliu, and Babeldaob, which include optometry (vision screenings, glasses and sunglasses dispensing), dentistry (examinations, extractions, and fluoride treatments), and chronic disease screening. These services are free and open to the public on a first come, first serve basis. The U.S. Embassy Koror Facebook page will provide updated information on the location and times of these community engagements.

Surgeons will also perform operations onboard USNS Mercy. Patients will be pre-screened through a process coordinated through the Palau Ministry of Health and Human Services and with local doctors. Pacific Partnership medical providers will also conduct medical subspecialty care and training engagements at Belau National Hospital, working side-by-side with their Palauan medical colleagues, as well as training in trauma, obstetric, and neonatal emergencies.

Additionally, the U.S. Pacific Partnership band, comprised of musicians from the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, the Royal Australian Navy and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force will perform free concerts at Ernguul Park on Dec. 23rd, Surangel’s Shopping Center in Airai on Christmas Eve, and at the Old Age Home in Koror on December 28th. There will also be host nation outreach events for Sailors to play sports with students who are on Christmas break from school. Experts in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief will conduct workshops for safe boating and disaster risk management.

"When speaking about the Palau mission stop, U.S. Joint Region Marianas (JRM) Senior Military Official for the Republic of Palau, Rear Admiral Greg Huffman said, "I would like to express my sincere appreciation to President Whipps, his staff and the entire Palau community for the support they have provided this mission. The trust built through collaborative exercises like Pacific Partnership strengthen our shared capacity and deepen our special strategic partnership." Rear Admiral Huffman will attend the opening ceremony of Pacific Partnership 24-1 in Palau onboard USNS Mercy. "This mission fosters multilateral cooperation and emphasizes a multinational and whole-of-government approach between our countries that continues to promote stability, unity and prosperity in Palau and throughout the region."

Born out of the devastation brought by the December 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of South and Southeast Asia, Pacific Partnership began as a military-led humanitarian response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters. Building on the success and goodwill of this operation, the U.S. helped spearhead the inaugural Pacific Partnership mission in 2006.

Pacific Partnership, now in its 19th iteration, is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. Each year the mission team works collectively 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, go to www.facebook.com/pacificpartnership, www.instagram.com/pacific_partnership/ or https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/PacificPartnership. For questions about Pacific Partnership engagements and band concerts, please contact U.S. Embassy Koror public affairs officer Jason Frohnmayer at FrohnmayerJO@state.gov.

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