SOURCE: Pacific Partnership Public Affairs
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DA NANG, Vietnam – The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Osumi-Class JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), carrying a multinational crew of U.S., Australian and Japanese personnel arrived in Da Nang June 6 for Pacific Partnership 2014, beginning nine days of collaborative medical and engineering activities with the people of Vietnam.
Members of the media and local officials welcomed the first-ever Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship to serve as the primary mission platform for the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s annual humanitarian and disaster response-focused mission.
An official welcoming ceremony hosted by local authorities and attended by Japan’s Ambassador to Vietnam, the honorable Hiroshi Fukada, took place pierside. Immediately following the ceremony, PP14 Mission Commander U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Shipman; Deputy Mission Commander JMSDF Capt. Yoichi Matsui; and Mission Chief of Staff Australian Army Lt. Col. John Cronin interacted with members of the media in attendance.
“It’s an honor to be in Vietnam for this years Pacific Partnership,” Shipman said. “Over the next week and a half we’ll work with our partners to help strengthen the local community. Building these relationships will help us all when it comes to having an immediate need of assistance so we can better work together.”
In addition to the medical and engineering engagements, ship tours, band concerts, and community service events, U.S.-Japanese-Australian-Vietnamese sporting events are also planned. These activities underscore closer ties between the partner nations.
“I know all of us on the ship are looking forward to working with the Vietnamese people to get some great outcomes,” Cronin said. “It’s a great opportunity to get to know the Vietnamese people and culture. For me personally it’s nice to be back in Vietnam.”
This year marks the fifth time a Pacific Partnership mission has visited Vietnam.
Kunisaki will also visit and directly assist host nations Cambodia, and the Republic of the Philippines with a number of engineering, medical, and civic projects.
While training in simulated crisis-conditions, Pacific Partnership missions to date have provided real-world medical care to approximately 250,000 patients, veterinary services to more than 37,000 animals, accomplished more than 170 engineering projects, and enabled critical infrastructure development in Cambodia, Federated States of Micronesia, Indonesia, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Philippines, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
JS Kunisaki (LST 4003) approaches the port of Da Nang, the first stop for the ship during this year’s Pacific Partnership mission. (U.S. Navy/Lt. Jesus Uranga)
U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Shipman, Pacific Partnership mission commander, answers questions at a press conference following the arrival of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Kunisaki, Pacific Partnership’s primary mission platform this year. (U.S. Navy/MCC Greg Badger)