The USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) hospital ship, which is now in Puerto Princesa City for the 17th Pacific Partnership 2022, is aiming to provide medical services to more than 7,000 beneficiaries from August 3 to 17.
During the opening program on Wednesday, Task Force 73 commander, Rear Admiral Mark Melson, said Pacific Partnership 2022 is a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) preparedness mission where they will provide medical assistance, training, lectures, and community outreach programs.
“The Pacific Partnership began in 2006 so this is the 17th and this is really the best partnership when you think about multi-national exercises. Pacific Partnership is the brand, so to speak, that people recognize and we’re gonna continue to push and try to get even better, more comprehensive, enhance our command and control, and our logistics and cooperation,” Melson said.
The medical mission services will be held aboard the USNS Mercy 1,000-bed capacity hospital ship commissioned in 1986 that provides floating, mobile, acute surgical medical facilities, and hospital services to support United States’ disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide. The ship first visited Puerto Princesa City in 1987.
Aside from the medical services, the mission also conducted engineering, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief activities, a medical symposium for the Palawan Medical Society, Forensic Dentistry Training, and tree planting in the northern part of the city affected by typhoon Odette and religious outreach.
“Our target, if we can provide a 7,000 plus [services] on Mercy, all we ask obviously is for the community perspective on helping them or the right people in need. We were able to get quality training, we can learn and execute. For us to be partners with all these exercises we have to train our navy and our joint forces to understand more the region, the disasters,” Melson said.
“We already had 200 medical engagements, we’re also doing things that are incredibly sensitive and relevant. Last night I got to take part in a resilience session. So we’re talking about mental health, about how to make the community stronger and more resilient on heels of the humanitarian crisis, of a pandemic, when a lot of people there are suffering,” he added.
Along with the US Navy are the personnel from different countries such as South Korea, Malaysia, Chile, Australia, the United Kingdom, and others.
“We also have the Royal Navy with us, the Australian Defense Force taking part in this and they will help us through in the medical and disaster preparedness in this,” Melson said.
Meanwhile, Western Command (WESCOM) chief Vice Admiral Albert Carlos said that while the mission’s main focus is on HADR, it will be beneficial to the command and its personnel as it will also strengthen interoperability between partner nations.
“This is also a result of building up our interoperability in terms of HADR activities. This is not just a humanitarian mission, mayroon tayong maritime training, and mountain rescue training are being provided. Even for our doctors, there are capacity buildings and in terms of interoperability with the US forces,” Carlos said.
“So for the next two weeks we will provide assistance, and among the seven stops, we will make sure this is the best stop in this partnership and make this a successful partnership.
On the other hand, Vice Mayor Ma. Nancy Socrates said that aside from the services to be provided by the Pacific Partnership, it will also boost the disaster preparedness and response capability of the city.
“Malaki ang impact nito with our disaster preparedness especially our ability to respond in a crisis. Actually, tayo ang may malaking pakinabang kaysa sa kanila, this is a very good chance for us to enhance our capability,” Socrates said. (With reports from Gerald Ticke)