11 July 2012
The health expertise of eight NZ Defence Force personnel will be fully utilised as they embark for the Vietnam phase of Exercise Pacific Partnership 2012 on the USNS MERCY.
The team of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel include a medical and nursing officer, a dental officer, an environmental health officer, health planners and medics.
The NZ Defence Force has an ongoing commitment to humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) in the Pacific, says Major Paul Kendall, Officer Commanding the contingent.
“Our team has integrated well on USNS MERCY and we’re looking forward to contributing to the Vietnam phase of Pacific Partnership.
“New Zealand’s participation in Ex Pacific Partnership demonstrates our commitment to the Pacific, and helping our Pacific partners to prepare and respond to natural disasters.
“Ex Pacific Partnership is a good opportunity for the Defence Force to enhance co-operation and build relationships. We have a good relationship with our coalition partners and it’s important for us to work closely to test interoperability so we can perform tasks together in real life HADR situations.”
The NZ Defence Force personnel will work alongside a number of nations including the US, Japan, Canada, Australia, Chile and Malaysia.
A number of activities will be carried out ashore in Vietnam and also onboard USNS MERCY, from medical, nursing and dental tasks, to providing health planning and environmental health support.
The New Zealand team will disembark USNS MERCY on 24 July.
NZ Defence Force participation in deployments such as Ex Pacific Partnership and Ex Tropic Twilight are essential for the Defence Force to remain capable and poised to support actual HADR operations, such as the Samoan Tsunami and Christchurch earthquake.
Ex Pacific Partnership is the largest annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Asia-Pacific region, helping to ensure the international community is prepared to respond as a co-ordinated force when disaster strikes.
Ex Pacific Partnership 2012 began in May with the sailing of USNS Mercy from San Diego. To date it has completed missions in Indonesia at the start of June and the Philippines, now moving on to Vietnam. The mission will finish in Cambodia before USNS Mercy returns to the US in mid September.
For further information contact Senior Media Advisor Kirsty Taylor-Doig on 021 806 926