Pacific Partnership humanitarian mission kicks off in Yap, FSM

 MG 5306By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
March 21, 2018
Colonia, Yap—Dignitaries gathered aboard the USNS Brunswick at the Colonia Port this morning to officially kick off the Pacific Partnership 2018 services in Yap. US Ambassador to the FSM Robert Riley said that the Pacific Partnership began after the massive tsunami in Indonesia in 2004. On analysis it was decided that the United States could have had a faster response to the tragedy. They put into place the plans for the Pacific Partnership in order to improve capacity for disaster response, to build medical capacity in the Pacific region, and to serve people in need.

This year’s visit of the mission to Yap is the fifth time it is has visited the FSM since the Pacific Partnership began. MG 5267

The Pacific Partnership is a multi-national medical and humanitarian effort. As they continue on through the Pacific they will provide medical, dental, and opthalmological services, as well as veterinarian services and engineering services. They also will participate in good will community events like sporting events and concerts by the excellent brass band.

Serving alongside US armed forces representatives are representatives of the armed forces of Australia, and Japan. The Deputy Mission Commander is Captain Peter Olive of the British Navy. Ambassador Riley said that while he was aboard the USNS Mercy on the previous day he’d also met people from Sri Lanka and Peru.

The mission began with a visit of the massive medical ship, the USNS Mercy to Ulithi where they dropped medical supplies yesterday. The 1000 bed hospital ship with state of the art surgical theaters was simply too large to enter Colonia’s port. They dropped medical supplies that will be used by Pacific Partnership doctors that will be serving in the outer islands from their base aboard the Brunswick in Colonia.

 MG 5408 2Several FSM and Yap government officials were transported by helicopter for the visit of the Mercy which will continue on to other
countries.

Meanwhile, the USNS Brunswick will serve as a base of operations in Colonia and for the outer islands.

“There is no sunset to the dedication of the United States for the defense of the FSM,” said Ambassador Riley.

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FSM’s President Peter Christian said that he was pleased to have the mission in the FSM as a demonstration to others of the US 

 

commitment to the defense of the nation. He also used his time to thank the US for its recognition of the strategic importance of the FSM to the US. “We commit our friendship to all nations,” he said and reminded those in attendance that if nations respect each other our differences shouldn’t matter.

Yap’s Governor left island before the Pacific Partnership began. Acting Governor James Yangetmai represented the Yap government at the opening ceremony saying that it was the first time in history for Yap to be so completely inundated with medical personnel. He thanked the mission for the donations they had so far made to the people of Yap and the services they would be offering during the next two weeks.  MG 5526“America is great to us, especially when we are in need,” he said.

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After the ceremony, an astoundingly talented and delightful group of traditional dancers from North Fanif Elementary School entertained the dignitaries with stick dances. VIPS were given a tour of the USNS Brunswick, and extremely fast, highly maneuverable and reconfigurable aluminum vessel, a new class of vessels for the US Navy.

In the afternoon, the mission’s six member brass band gave a fun concert at St. Mary’s Catholic School playing jazz, dance and funk numbers for the students. The students were first hesitant to dance to music though it was obvious they were loving the band, but once they did they came out in large numbers and had a ball. Captain Oliver presented a new soccer ball to the principal before they packed up.

Captain Oliver and Ambassador Riley next visited Gilman Early Childhood Education Center where Seabees were renovating and repainting the center. The Pacific Partnership will be in Yap for nearly two weeks performing dozens of services while they are here.

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