The numbers are impressive: 7,667 pairs of prescription glasses and at least 7,440 pairs of sunglasses distributed; more than 6,847 dental procedures completed; nearly 4,000 hours of construction project labor provided; 300 surgeries conducted; and 38 concerts performed. That is the final tally of Pacific Partnership 24-1, which ended its five-mission tour in January 2024 in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), after four months of providing medical and dental care, as well as engineering, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).
The United States-led Pacific Partnership originated after a December 2004 tsunami devastated parts of Southeast Asia, and the effort has evolved from direct care to enhancing partnerships. It is the largest annual multinational HADR preparedness mission in the Indo-Pacific, working with host and partner nations to enhance interoperability and disaster response capabilities, and increase regional security and stability.
Pacific Partnership 24-1, the centerpiece of which was the 1,000-bed hospital ship USNS Mercy, also conducted missions in the Micronesian state Pohnpei, as well as in the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Solomon Islands.
“Pacific Partnership is symbolic of the unity and spirit of cooperation that embodies the U.S.-FSM relationship, and our shared goal of an open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure Indo-Pacific,” U.S. Ambassador to Micronesia Jennifer Johnson said in a news release.
The mission stop in Chuuk state, an island group that’s home to about 53,000 people, included Coast Guardsmen, Sailors and Soldiers from Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S. They performed dental, optometry and medical procedures, including 82 surgeries aboard USNS Mercy.
U.S. Navy environmental health officers worked with residents on food storage and rodent trapping methods to prevent infestations and reduce the likelihood of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can be spread by rats.
Pacific Partnership team members also collaborated with first responders in Chuuk to enhance first aid, search and rescue, and emergency messaging and communications during disasters. U.S. Navy Seabees helped repair water pipes at Chuuk State Hospital and upgraded equipment at a sports field.
Military personnel from Japan and New Zealand also were part of Pacific Partnership 24-1. Among the highlights of the earlier mission stops:
- Personnel supported local medical providers at 17 sites in the Solomon Islands, including clinics and the National Referral Hospital, during the 2023 Pacific Games. They delivered approximately 27,000 kilograms of ice supplied by USNS Mercy to prevent and treat heat stress and provided 14 days of surgical coverage to a 500-person multinational security force supporting the sporting event.
- Medical team members sailed with local health providers aboard the Marshall Islands hospital ship RMIS Liwatoon-Mour for a four-day tuberculosis eradication campaign. It marked the first time U.S. medical personnel operated from a host nation’s hospital ship during a Pacific Partnership mission.
- Divers removed and disposed of a derelict cargo vessel from Pohnpei’s Dekehtik Harbor to prevent environmental and economic impacts.
“So let this special friendship be … an enduring one that will span decades, islands and nations,” Chuuk Gov. Alexander Narruhn said during the Pacific Partnership closing ceremony. “Let it be practiced on good faith so we can strengthen regional security, unity, stability, collaboration and goodwill.”