US joins humanitarian, disaster readiness exercises in Palawan

Compilled By Piet Sinke

The United States joined Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and other partners to officially launch the Pacific Partnership 2022 (PP22) on Wednesday, August 3, in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. According to the US Embassy in the Philippines, PP22 is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness exercise conducted in the Indo-Pacific
United States Naval Ship (USNS) MERCY was built as a San Clemente-class oil tanker, SS WORTH, by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, California, in 1976. Starting

in July 1984, she was renamed and converted to a hospital ship by the same company. Launched on 20 July 1985, MERCY was placed in service on 8 November 1986. She has a raised forecastle, a transom stern, a bulbous bow, an extended deckhouse with a forward bridge, and a helicopter-landing deck with a flight-control facility.
The conversions from oil tankers cost $208 million per ship and took 35 months to complete
Patient transfers to / from the ship are performed by helicopter or with the much larger/faster MV-22 Osprey, small boat and pier-side embarkings /disembarkings. The heat resistance deck is special installed so that the USNS MERCY can handle the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities.

The Mercy-class hospital ships are the third largest ships in the US Navy Fleet by length,
Surpassed only by the nuclear-powered Nimitz- and Gerald R. Ford-class supercarriers. Her primary mission is to provide rapid, flexible, and mobile acute medical and surgical services to support Marine Corps Air/Ground Task Forces deployed ashore, Army and Air Force units deployed ashore, and naval amphibious task forces and battle forces afloat. Secondarily, she provides mobile surgical hospital service for use by appropriate US Government agencies in disaster and humanitarian relief, and limited humanitarian care incident to these missions and to peacetime military operations On July 27, 2022, PP22 activities began with the arrival of the USNS MERCY (T-AH 19), a 1,000-bed hospital ship commissioned in 1986 to provide medical services to support US disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide. Welcoming the PP22, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron said this is "an amazing program that not only brings assistance and services, but more importantly,  strengthens the bond between partner nations." In 1987, the USNS MERCY first docked in Palawan to conduct a training and humanitarian cruise to the Philippines and to the South Pacific, treating over 63,000 patients alongside medical personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.






Military officials from the United States and partner countries joined Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates of Puerto Princesa City and Col. Rey Bes, Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command deputy commander, during the arrival of the military sealift command hospital ship USNS MERCY (T-AH 19) in Palawan to kick off the activities of Pacific Partnership 2022 on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. The ship is equipped with mobile and acute medical facilities and offers hospital services to support United States disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide. PP22 Mission Commander Capt. Hank Kim said the impact of disaster emergencies transcends borders and requires comprehensive coordination among nations for an effective response. "I am confident that the planning and hard work that we have invested with our partners will have a long-lasting impact here in the Philippines," Kim said. US Navy Capt. Jeffrey Feinberg said growing their collective capability for disaster response is an important aspect of this mission, which elevates their ability to respond to any hazard that may come their way. The embassy said this year's Pacific Partnership military exercise is taking place in Palawanand includes military and civilian personnel from the Philippines and from six PP22 partner countries. It added that they are leading several activities together to promote interoperability among forces and strengthen the Philippines' capacity for disaster preparedness and response The embassy said it will also work with local medical professionals to provide treatment for 7,000 patients and conduct more than 200 surgeries. Several teams were going around to the Barangays (Villages) for first aid lessons at the schools as seen as seen photo top left and Several evenings the US Navy Pacific band in combination with the Philippine Airforce band of Palawan gave live concerts at several locations in Puerto Princesa City and the surrounding Barangay’s (villages) .
After the Philippines, the PP22 team will conduct missions throughout Oceania and the Western Pacific










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