US navy delivers entertainment and aid to Samoa
Apia, SAMOA — US navy ship, USS Jackson, departed Samoa last Wednesday after a week-long mission, delivering aid and providing development assistance to communities across the country.
The vessel had a multinational force of sailors, engineers, medical specialists and musicians. It was part of an annual operation known as the Pacific Partnership - annual humanitarian and outreach program in its eighteenth year running.
"Our relationship with these countries that we visit is most important," US Embassy in Samoa's charge d'Affaires Noriko Horiuchi said.
"Relationships with countries should not just be government-to-government, it should also be people-to-people.
"When you see our leaders talking with Pacific Island leaders - that's one way we engage with the Pacific such as through the [Pacific Islands Forum] - but with the Pacific Partnership program we engage at all levels with the people.
"We are too a Pacific nation and therefore it's important to show the Pacific that we are here are we are here to engage."
Among the deliveries of the mission were natural disaster preparedness, with experts training local authorities in evacuation and disaster response operations in the event of cyclone and tsunami.
Doctors assist Samoa's health system in the treatment of patients and engineers consult and survey the country for future development projects through the initiative.
Community outreach programs, in the form of beach clean-ups, musical performances, sporting friendlies and school visits, were also delivered.
The US-led multinational operation involved units from Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom.
"It's a wonderfully diverse mission," British Royal Navy captain Joe Dransfield said.
"We have medical teams going out and working side by side with the host nation and sharing knowledge and learning from each other," Dransfield said.
"We also have teams of engineers — mostly US and Korean — who are looking at potential future projects in the country.
"There was a fabulous engagement at a school which saw a combination of a US woodwind quintet playing aside a Zumba — several of us were leaping around."
The 2023 Pacific Partnership mission has had personnel working in Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Fiji. After Samoa, there are yet to-be-confirmed visits planned for Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Fiji.
"This year's Pacific Partnership features nearly 1,500 personnel," Dransfield said.
"It is a joint effort on behalf of Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States."
Samoa's deputy Prime Minister Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio commended the mission.
Tuala said the annual mission benefitted the country and was in line with Pacific Island regional agreements.
"I understand the visit by the US lead mission via the USS Jackson is part of an annual deployment of services from the United States Navy Pacific fleet," he said.
"We acknowledge the support of the US as key foreign dialogue partner and look forward to continue to engage Blue Pacific continent to address Pacific priorities under the principles of the Pacific regionalism and in line with the Pacific 2050 Strategy."
"Whether it be in the element of engineering, music, sports or disaster preparedness in whatever field but no doubt through shared responsibility, collaboration and community action it will benefit our nation and communities."