Pacific Partnership 2011 (PP11) officially ended when the USS Cleveland left Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on July 15. Ambassador Peter Prahar held a memorable farewell reception dinner at his residence high over Kolonia harbor, which was attended by a very happy group of exhausted PP11 participants, some of whom had been aboard the Cleveland since March. Although a handful of us flew out of Kolonia the next day on the "island hopper," most of the group remain on Cleveland sailing towards Hawaii.
The mission to the FSM was especially challenging as a training mission for future disaster mitigation. PP11's commitment to undertake projects in all four states of Micronesia -- Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap -- required assistance from the Navy Air Logistics Office (NALO), which provided two C-12 and one C-9 aircraft during the mission. Using Kolonia as a base, these aircraft delivered both medical teams and a team headed by Ambassador Prahar and Commodore Wilson to Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap. Since the devastating tsunami of December 2004 killed more than 200,000 people in Indonesia and elsewhere in the Pacific, the necessity of early warning systems and disaster plans has been emphasized in the Pacific Islands. But only when you spend some time there, or fly several hours from one island state to another, do you begin to appreciate the challenge of preparation for future calamities.
The emphasis on training in no way affected the overall medical effort in FSM. PP11 doctors and dentists treated more than 6,200 patients and dispensed 4,229 pairs of glasses. Veterinary teams treated 244 animals, and educational exchanges were held at the primary hospitals in each state. Engineering projects were completed in all six of Pohnpei's municipalities.
The Cleveland, which provided an excellent crew and platform for PP11, will be decommissioned in San Diego on September 30 of this year. As many have noted, it was fitting that her final mission should be Pacific Partnership. Just prior to her decommissioning, also in San Diego, will be the initial planning conference for Pacific Partnership 2012, which will again operate via the USNS Mercy. All of the Pacific Partnership news and updates will continue to be available on the Pacific Partnership Facebook page.