The largest annual mission that offers multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness operations, dubbed as the Pacific Partnership 2018, is up for a wide range of activities in Palau for two weeks.

The USNS Brunswick, the sixth Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship, had docked at the commercial port in Koror, Palau on Tuesday morning and carried with it over 134 military personnel from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Coast Guard; British Army and Royal Navy; Japanese Air, Ground and Maritime Self-Defense Force; and Royal Australian Navy to conduct medical, dental and veterinary services and engineering projects throughout the community while working side-by-side with local professionals on HA/DR readiness.

Deputy Mission Commander for Pacific Partnership 2018, Captain Peter Olive, said during an interview with the media at the opening of the Pacific Partnership 2018 at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center in Palau on Wednesday that this year’s mission is becoming ambitious as they have two ships running – the other one is the USNS Mercy which is also deployed in another country in Southeast Asia.

Captain Olive said that since this is a US-led mission, majority of the personnel are Americans who worked together with partners from Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom, among others.

Palau is the second country visited by the mission aboard the USNS Brunswick this year after Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia.

“It is really a big partnership. So I think it represents two things really – it represents the ideal specific partnership that we are stronger when we work together with our international partners and channel our understanding to develop corporation and I think it represents as well…it says something about US leadership in the international sphere,” Olive said.

Olive also shared that not all personnel who are part of the mission are first-timers in Palau as some had already been here before to be part of other activities outside the mission.

In fact, three Palauans namely U.S. Navy Chief Logistics Specialist Techur Johanes, Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Glenda Techur, and U.S. Coast Guard Chief Electrician’s Mate Truman Skang are part of their team for this year’s mission.

United States Ambassador to Palau Amy Hyatt also said in the same interview that the USNS Brunswick ship has come to Palau for three times already in the last 13 years.

“Pacific partnership is yet another demonstration, not only of the partnership between the UK, Japan, Australia and the United States with the people of Palau but also on this – the commitment of our nations to this region and to Palau specifically. It is a demonstration of working together to prepare for disasters but also just to show our commitment to this region,” US Ambassador Hyatt said.

The Pacific Partnership began in 2006 as a response to the December 2004 tsunami that hit parts of Southeast Asia and it continues to conduct outreach efforts to boost ability to respond to natural disasters, among others.

After Palau, the Pacific Partnership team aboard USNS Brunswick will head to East Malaysia next and then to Singapore for a logistic stop. It will then move to Thailand and then to Vietnam to meet the USNS Mercy. (Rhealyn C. Pojas/Reporter)