SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines The US hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived here yesterday morning to conduct humanitarian and relief missions.
Meanwhile, the US attack submarine USS Chicago also arrived here on Monday for a visit as part of its Western Pacific deployment.
The Mercy is here for the second leg of the “Pacific Partnership 2015 (PP15).”
Its personnel will conduct training on civic service events, women’s peace and security forums, disaster preparedness and relief efforts, and medical, dental, and veterinary services.
Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino welcomed the ship, saying the country and the city are lucky to benefit from the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief projects of PP15.
While in Subic Bay, the medical staff will perform surgical procedures, host community health programs and provide direct care in the Freeport and in Olongapo City.
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The USNS Mercy was recently in Capiz, where it conducted a four-day disaster preparedness symposium, search and rescue exercises, helicopter operations and vehicle extrication training.
A multinational team of military and civilian medical professionals performed surgery and other medical procedures on residents in Roxas City and surrounding areas.
They will conduct a disaster management course at the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital in Olongapo City today.
Tomorrow, the PP15 will be at the Harbor Terminal for the basic life support training with USNS Mercy and the Philippine Heart Center personnel.
The Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“PP15 is such a wonderful opportunity for our medical teams because they get the chance to work side-by-side with the Philippine medical community. We learn so much from each other and this collaboration strengthens our international partnership and better prepares us to respond to natural disasters throughout the region,” Capt. Melanie Merrick, chief officer of the medical treatment facility, said.
PP15 participants on the ship and on the ground include personnel from Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States.
The hospital ship has more than 900 personnel including volunteers from non-governmental organizations.
Meanwhile, the Chicago, which has 170 crewmembers, has been conducting missions showcasing the latest capabilities of the US submarine fleet.
“The crew looks forward to experiencing many activities the Philippines has to offer,” said Cmdr. Lance Thompson, Chicago’s commanding officer.
Chicago is the first fast-attack submarine equipped with a vertical launch system that allows the US Navy to maintain a constant forward presence for strategic action.
“The crew worked hard to prepare for this mission,” Chicago chief machinist Jamie Manzoeillo said.
Logistics specialist Allendale Basa, a native of the Philippines, was excited to visit his relatives.
“I’m looking forward to spending quality time with my family in Olongapo City,” Basa said.
Chicago is one of the most advanced submarines in the world, capable of conducting intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare and strike.g With Jaime Laude