DVIDS (Aug 14): Mercy departs Subic Bay, Philippines
The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) departed Subic Bay, Philippines, Aug. 14 after completing a 10-day mission stop for Pacific Partnership 2015.
During the second stop of the Philippines mission, U.S., partner nation and host nation service members and non-governmental organizations conducted subject matter expert exchanges, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief symposiums, veterinary engagements and medical personnel provided direct medical care in Subic Bay, Olongapo, Pangasinan and Manila.
The non-governmental organization Operation Smile played a significant role for Pacific Partnership in the Philippines; in Subic Bay alone the organization screened 150 patients and performed and 81 operations.
"It’s an incredible partnership," said Victoria Stabile, the Operations Smile coordinator aboard Mercy. “There is such a strong tie between the Philippines and the United States ... it's been really wonderful for us to join with the U.S. Navy and show the strength of that bond together."
Filipino first responders from the Olongapo City Urban Search and Rescue Team and U.S. Soldiers from the 84th Civil Affairs Battalion also trained together during a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness-training seminar.
"The training has gone extremely well," said Capt. John Karlsson, the civil affairs team lead. "This team (of Filipino first responders) go out to other regions in the Philippines and teach these life saving techniques to others ... It makes them a lot more versatile and have the ability to save more lives.”
Karlsson said the exchange of techniques and ideas made the training useful for everyone. "We have been able to learn from each other, and provide something that will have direct impact and meaning.”
A U.S. Army veterinary team embarked aboard Mercy also made site visits to Manila and Pangasinan where they taught Armed Forces of the Philippines and provincial veterinarians how to use chemical castration and rapid rabies detection kits. The Army veterinary team taught classes on animal dental health and surgery, as well as military working dog kennel care and sanitation, and they performed rabies vaccinations and gave deworming medicine to more than 500 cattle, 200 dogs and 30 cats.
The mission in Subic Bay was bittersweet for some as personnel from several partner nations involved in the mission, including Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Australia, returned to their home stations at its conclusion.
“It was an awesome time and a great experience working with different militaries,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Ko Naluai. “It was interesting to see how they do things and learn from them.”
Naluai said the day-to-day interaction provided him a chance to build relationships on both a personal and professional level - creating bonds that won’t soon be forgotten.
Mercy is currently underway, continuing to its final mission port in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. While training for crisis conditions, Pacific Partnership missions to date have provided medical care to approximately 270,000 patients and veterinary services to more than 38,000 animals. Additionally, PP15 has provided critical infrastructure development to host nations through the completion of more than 180 engineering projects.