By Greg Mitchell, USNH Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Personnel attached to U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka recently departed the command to deploy as participants in the upcoming Pacific Partnership 2016 humanitarian mission aboard the hospital ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH-19).
Pacific Partnership is an annual deployment of forces from the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy, in cooperation with regional governments and military forces, along with humanitarian and non-government organizations.
The deployment was conceived following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, as a way to improve the interoperability of the region’s military forces, governments, and humanitarian organizations during disaster relief operations, while providing humanitarian, medical, dental, and engineering assistance to nations of the Pacific, and strengthening relationships and security ties between the nations.
Consisting of a joint effort between the United States and foreign militaries, non-governmental organizations and partner-nation support organizations work together to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian and civic assistance, as well as veterinary, medical, dental and civil engineering support.
“This is my second time going underway aboard USNS Mercy,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Annaliza Nilo. “I previously served aboard Mercy during the inaugural Pacific Partnership 2006 mission. I am quite sure that this deployment will be as good if not better than it was then, which was an experience to last a lifetime.”
Including Nilo, a total of eight Sailors will represent USNH Yokosuka; Lt. Jeffrey Samuels, Lt. Paul Tan, Lt. Jeremy Wano, Lt.j.g. Anthony Ochiltree, Lt.j.g. Naomi Harless, Machinist Mate 1st Class Derron Alleyne, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Emily M. Fowler.
Pacific Partnership 2016 will consist of stops in the Philippines, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Palau. These stops will include partners from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
“This region has been particularly hard hit by natural disasters in the past decade, and so the opportunity to help bolster partner nation capabilities, interoperability, and to share lessons learned, is special,” said Ochiltree. “The work that we do will have a positive impact on tens of thousands of people for years to come, so I’m glad to play a role, however small, in that work.”
Non-governmental organizations such as Project Hope, Latter Day Saints Charities, University of California San Diego, Project Handclasp, and World Vets. Medical and civil-engineering teams will also participate in the mission and collaborate with partner nations in subject matter expert exchanges, disaster relief preparedness exercises and community relations projects.
Each of the crewmembers shares a similar feeling towards having the opportunity to be a part of a deployment of this magnitude.
“I’m extremely honored to be selected to attend the Pacific Partnership this year as a clinical dietitian working with other providers to improve nutrition and quality of life, and enhance education in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease,” said Harless. “I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I get to participate in something that will impact the lives of thousands and witness the challenges that face many countries. This will be an incredible experience that I will remember for life.”