acific Partnership has concluded its final mission stop of its 2023 journey from a closing ceremony at Vuna Wharf on Nov. 20.
The largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Blue Pacific, Pacific Partnership enables participants, including United States and Tongan personnel, to work together to enhance disaster response capabilities and foster new and enduring friendships.
Rear Adm. Mark A. Melson, Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, stated in his closing ceremony remarks, “Our friendship is at the core of our bilateral relationship between the United States and Tonga. We share many values, with improved maritime security at the top of the list. The U.S. and our Navy are committed to the Kingdom of Tonga and the population of more than 100,000 citizens.”
While in Tonga, the medical team conducted a total of 52 engagements. The team, consisting of U.S., Tongan, British, Australian and Chilean service members conducted a total of four Community Health Engagements where 599 Tongans participated, 227 patients, had more than 800 dental procedures, and five days of medical and dental side-by-side events were conducted. The veterinarian team completed 12 facility inspections where 15 ministry of agriculture personnel were trained, and 60 personnel completed food safety training.
The engineering team, consisting of members from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, U.S. Navy, British Army conducted a community relations event involving the painting of a women and children’s protection facility with the help of the mission’s joint personnel, conducted various subject matter expert exchanges, and the site survey of a future potential renovation.
The Pacific Partnership 2023 band delivered in full force, consisting of members from the U.S., Australian, New Zealand and Canadian navies, and the Black Watch of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. These musicians formed a woodwind ensemble and rock band, and hosted concerts across Nuku’alofa.
The rock band delivered their final show, Nov. 18, where members of the community joined mission personnel for an electrifying performance.
“Pacific Partnership 2023 was an overwhelming success, and I am proud to conclude our annual mission right here in Nuku’alofa,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Claudine Caluori, mission commander. “The success of our seven day mission stop in Tonga is a direct outcome of a global alliance committed to the safety and stability of the Blue Pacific.”
Pacific Partnership 2023 began in August and has since completed mission stops in Vietnam, the Philippines, Samoa, Malaysia, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Fiji before concluding in Tonga. Pacific Partnership 2024-1 is currently underway, with the USNS Mercy supporting mission stops throughout the South Pacific.
“I’m proud of the team supporting Pacific Partnership 2023: Tongans, Americans, and our other partners,” noted Brad Coley, Chargé d’affaires a.i. of United States Embassy Nukuʻalofa. “From musical performances at schools, to engineering workshops, to community health fairs, it has been inspiring to see Tongans and Americans working closely together. The friendship between Tonga and the United States is strong and long standing, and exercises like Pacific Partnership make that relationship practical.”