A Portsmouth-based ship has become the first British warship to visit the fourth smallest country in the world in almost 100 years.
The patrol ship anchored in Malakal Harbour off the capital Koror as part of a US-led peace/goodwill mission, with the 1,000-bed hospital ship USNS Mercy.
The latter is flagship of Pacific Partnership 22, a two-month deployment to remote communities around the Indo-Pacific, supported by the US allies, delivering medical aid and assistance, supporting community projects, assisting with infrastructure and taking part in sporting and community activities.
A Royal Navy officer (Captain Charles Maynard) is the deputy commander of the mission from the USNS Mercy, as well as RN medical officer Lieutenant Lesley Hailey, part of the international team on the hospital ship.
Now Tamar – on a five-year mission with sister ship HMS Spey as part of the UK’s ‘tilt’ back to the Indo-Pacific – has joined Pacific Partnership 22 for the deployment’s closing weeks.
During the six-day visit to Palau, Tamar hosted its President, Surangel Whipps Jr and senior government officials to show what the ship and her men and women are capable of, before welcoming some of the country’s 18,000 inhabitants.
There were discussions on how nations involved in Pacific Partnership – Australia, Japan, the UK and the USA – could provide help, specifically related to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and medical exchanges.
And with Mercy ‘in town’, her medical teams worked with the hosts in sharing guidance and expertise on health and wellbeing issues: paediatric, maternity, neonatal, intensive and critical care, mental health for military veterans, and physical therapy.
Meanwhile, Tamar’s sailors had the chance to explore islands few Britons have visited, including Unesco World Heritage sites across the archipelago, and learn about the conservation efforts of the people of Palau.
HMS Bluebell – the last Royal Navy ship to visit Palau, nearly 100 years ago
‘It’s been a privilege to bring the first Royal Navy warship into Palau for almost 100 years,’ said Lieutenant Commander Matt Millyard, HMS Tamar’s executive officer.
‘We learned a great deal from each other and with Tamar now an enduring presence here I look forward to continuing to build our partnerships in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.’
The republic is 500 miles east of the Philippines.