Preparations are underway for Pacific Partnership 2009, the fourth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian civic assistance missions. The mission will visit the Solomon Islands in August.

"This year we plan to head to Oceania and bring much needed supplies, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering aid to this region that has such a rich history with the United States," said Admiral Robert. F. Willard, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. The mission will visit Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga.

"For the past three years COMPACFLT has conducted this important humanitarian civic assistance mission in concert with allies, partners, friends and NGOs (non- governmental organizations) throughout the Asia-Pacific region," said Willard. "Lives have been saved and quality of life improved in many of the regions we've visited."

Pacific Partnership works by, with and through partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. government agencies to execute a variety of humanitarian civic action (HCA) missions in the Pacific Fleet area of responsibility from a ship dedicated to this HCA mission.

The mission is being coordinated with several partner nations and will be carried out in conjunction with non-governmental relief organizations. A number of military and civilian agencies are planning myriad details that go into a months-long mission which includes a variety of engineering, medical and dental civic-action programs to provide humanitarian assistance to nations in the Oceania region.

This year's mission will be based on board USS Dubuque (LPD 8), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock ship homeported in San Diego.

This year's mission will be more engineering focused, taking advantage of the unique capabilities Dubuque provides to transport and expeditiously unload construction equipment and supplies. Medical and dental civic action programs will be conducted ashore.

In 2008, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), one of the U.S. Navy's two hospital ships, conducted a four-month humanitarian mission, visiting the Republic of the Philippines, Vietnam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. The Pacific Partnership 2008 team provided a variety of medical, dental, educational and preventive medicine services to more than 90,000 patients.

In 2007, amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), conducted a four-month humanitarian mission, visiting the Philippines, Vietnam, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. During these humanitarian missions, the Pacific Partnership 2007 team provided a variety of medical, dental, educational and preventive medicine services to more than 31,600 patients.

For this mission, Dubuque will be configured with humanitarian civic assistance equipment and a robust multi-specialized team of preventive medicine personnel, veterinarians, medical and dental teams, a construction battalion and engineering personnel.