USNS Mercy (top) and USNS Millinocket set out from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for Pacific Partnership 2015
21 June 2015
Nine New Zealand Defence Force personnel are hard at work in the annual United States Navy-led Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) preparedness mission Exercise Pacific Partnership (PP15).
As well as New Zealand and the US, Defence personnel from Australia, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Timor-Leste are in the mission. The combined PP15 team will visit seven host nations and engage in a variety of local outreach efforts.
The host nations this year are Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, the Philippines and Vietnam. PP15 medical, dental, engineering and veterinary personnel team will assist each host nation with a wide variety of projects designed to improve their capability and ability to respond to natural disasters, and build regional relationships.
New Zealand’s Senior National Officer on the mission, Wing Commander (WGCDR) Jennifer Atkinson, is embarked on the hospital ship USNS Mercy as the mission Chief of Staff, working under the US mission Commander and Australian deputy commander.
The other eight NZDF personnel comprise a chaplain and a seven-strong medical team, including a dentist and dental hygienist, embarked on the high-speed vessel USNS Millinocket, which has spent the past fortnight in Kiribati.
“While in Kiribati the team were involved in medical, dental, and community relations tasks focused on improving the expertise of local providers, so they can better support local communities and respond effectively in times of crisis,” WGCDR Atkinson says.
“Unfortunately the Pacific region is very familiar with cyclones, earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.
“This is an amazing opportunity to be part of something so positive and useful with our friends and partners in the Pacific,” she says.
Millinocket has now left Kiribati and arrives in the Federated States of Micronesia today. Mercy is also on the move and bound for Arawa, Bougainville.