Defence medical practitioners and engineers have today deployed on Pacific Partnership 2013. Australia’s largest contingent, onboard HMAS Tobruk, will deliver medical, dental, veterinary and engineering aid to Vanimo and Wewak, in Papua New Guinea from 13 June to 6 July 2013.
The annual US-sponsored Pacific Partnership mission aims to strengthen international relationships and improve the interoperability of regional forces in response to natural disaster and humanitarian emergencies. The mission provides humanitarian and civic assistance across the Pacific from 25 May to 19 August 2013.
Defence specialists and command staff will also be onboard the USS Pearl Harbour to deliver assistance to Samoa, Tonga and the Marshall Islands, as well as to Kiribati.
Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Senator David Feeney says the mission is a good opportunity to work with our regional partners.
“Pacific Partnerships 2013 exemplifies the willingness and ability of the ADF and other regional military and civilian organisations to work cooperatively to improve the lives of people in the Pacific,” Senator Feeney said.
Australian contingent commander Wing Commander Paul Howard said the mission is of value to all involved.
“A clear advantage of planning and operating this mission is our ability to provide a natural disaster or humanitarian assistance response in the future,” Wing Commander Howard said.
“The annual Pacific Partnership is an opportunity to work with our regional military partners on improving the quality of life of some of our closest neighbours.
“In Papua New Guinea, combined Australian, US, Japanese and Canadian military medical practitioners will run medical clinics, basic health awareness fairs and train local doctors and nurses.
“The engineers will replace plumbing, fix flooring, leaking roofs and rebuild classrooms in schools throughout the townships, to benefit nearly 5000 children.
“General basic engineering tasks completed by volunteers from the ship’s crew will make repairs to some public buildings, sport facilities and memorials.
“The crew is also looking forward to sports carnivals and health fairs, as an opportunity to meet the locals.”
The mission marks the eighth year of Australian participation.
Pacific Partnership has been held annually by the US Pacific Fleet since the devastating effects of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.
Pacific Partnership builds upon the extensive support Defence already provides in the Pacific, including maritime surveillance, police and military training, explosive ordnance disposal and infrastructure development.
Wing Commander Howard is available for interview.
Senator Feeney’s office: Jeffrey von Drehnen 0477 348 476
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999