The Asia-Pacific’s largest humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief preparedness mission will return to Sri Lanka for a second time as the United States continues to cultivate partnerships in the region, according to the U.S. military’s news source Stars and Stripes.
This marks the second year Pacific Partnership will visit Sri Lanka, whose location next to a critical sea lane attracts both the U.S. and China.
During this year’s Pacific Partnership exercise, which begins Friday and runs through June, the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy will travel to Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam while the USNS Fall River heads to, Malaysia, Palau, Thailand and Yap in Micronesia. Events will include civic-action projects, community health exchanges, medical symposiums and disaster-response training.
More than 800 personnel from the Navy and other countries are involved in the mission, which began in response to a deadly tsunami that ravaged parts of the region in 2004.
USNS Fall River arrived in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port last March to take part in Pacific Partnership 2017.
In October, the USS Nimitz and its strike group made a port call on the capital, Colombo, becoming the first U.S. aircraft carrier to do so in three decades.
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and aims to enhance regional coordination in areas such as medical readiness and preparedness for manmade and natural disasters.