About the Author: Tom Weinz is the dedicated Foreign Service Liaison Officer for Pacific Partnership 2010.
Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP-10) was officially announced by U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, on February 24, 2010. The Navy's commitment to this significant humanitarian effort is especially welcome in light of the recent and ongoing tragedy in Haiti, followed by an even more powerful quake off Chile on February 27. The world community responded as one following the January 12 earthquake just 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince. In spite of the unprecedented response, there were media reports criticizing local and international efforts. From my vantage point, the massive movement of first responders, equipment, and relief supplies to Port-au-Prince was praiseworthy. And Pacific Partnership has served as a template and training opportunity for such inevitable crises, while bringing ongoing assistance to people in need.
Pacific Partnership has served as a template in providing a clear and committed program in a large area threatened by frequent natural disasters. International participation has expanded annually. During PP09, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) provided two heavy landing craft that were essential to the success of the mission to smaller island nations. In PP10, Australia will redouble its commitment, providing landing craft, helicopters, and the amphibious ship HMAS Manoora. Last month Japan announced that the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) will send an Oosumi class amphibious ship, carrying two LCACs, helicopters, and medical teams to participate in Pacific Partnership 2010. This is significant, both for the unprecedented cooperation between Japan and the United States, and as a growing commitment by Japan to international humanitarian efforts.
Pacific Partnership 2010 will visit six countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, and Palau. The primary platform will be the USNS Mercy, whose sister ship, USNS Comfort remains in Haiti, providing much-needed hospital and medical capacity for that shattered nation. Mercy will sail from San Diego in early May and will be at sea until September. We welcome readers' comments and questions about Pacific Partnership, on this blog, through Facebook pages and via other social media sites that will be covering the mission.