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Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Hawaii State Senator Gilbert Kahele

As a mark of respect for the late Hawai’i State Senator Gilbert Kahele, Gov. David Ige has ordered the flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Monday, February 8, 2016.

Hawaii Flag Half Staff

“Senator Kahele was a dedicated public servant who spent the last few years working for the good of his beloved community at the Hawai‘i State Legislature. He was a respected and influential leader both in the legislature and in his hometown community of Hilo. On behalf of the people of Hawai‘i, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Kahele ‘ohana,” said Gov. Ige.

Sen. Kahele grew up in the fishing village of Miloli‘i on Hawai‘i Island and graduated from Hilo High School. He enlisted and served in the U.S. Marines and worked for the Hawai‘i Department of Defense for more than three decades.

Kahele was appointed to the Hawai‘i State Senate in 2011 by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie. He served as chairman of the Tourism and International Affairs Committee.

Kahele worked to strengthen Hilo’s economy and was instrumental in obtaining funding to build the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He was also a staunch supporter of the School of Aviation at Hilo International Airport.

Previously, Kahele served as chairman of the Hawai‘i County Police Commission and vice chairman of the Democratic Party for East Hawai‘i.

Note: Flag orders are issued to coincide with the day of the memorial service.

Motorcade Tribute for Late Sen. Gilbert Kahele – Schedule for Final Tribute in Honolulu & Hilo

The public is invited to pay their respects to the late State Senator Gilbert Kahele as he makes his final journey home from Honolulu to Hilo.

Kahele Motorcade

Sen. Kahele, who passed away suddenly on January 26, 2016, will be honored in a brief tribute as his motorcade passes the Hawai‘i State Capitol at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 2, 2016.  Members and staff of the State Legislature, Governor and Lt. Governor’s office, State Department Offices, State Sheriffs, Hawai‘i National Guard and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs will be in attendance.  Ke Kahili Nui (Hawaiian feathered standards), kani pu (conch blowers), and the Kanikau (mourning chant) will be performed for the late Senator by members of the Hawaiian community.  Flags will also drop to half-staff upon arrival and raised after the motorcade leaves the Capitol. The motorcade schedule in Honolulu is as follows:

  • 8:50 a.m.         Motorcade will leave Nuuanu Memorial, travel via police escort  from Nuuanu to Punchbowl and onto Beretania St.
  • 9:00 a.m.         Stop in front of State Capitol
  • 9:08 a.m.         Motorcade leaves State Capitol
  • 9:09 a.m.         Bells toll at St. Andrews Cathedral
  • 9:25 a.m.         Arrive at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
  • 9:40 a.m.         Flag Folding Ceremony/Playing of taps by the Hawai‘i National Honor Guard

The Hawai‘i Island community is encouraged to pay their respects when the Senator’s motorcade passes through Hilo. The motorcade will tour many sites that Sen. Kahele was fond of in Hilo town, as well as significant locations throughout his childhood.  The motorcade schedule in Hilo is as follows:

  • 12:45 p.m.       Flight arrives in Hilo
  • 1:00 p.m.         Motorcade departs Hilo airport
  • 1:10 p.m.         Keaukaha Elementary School
  • 1:20 p.m.         Richardsons Ocean Park
  • 1:25 p.m.         Puhi Bay
  • 1:30 p.m.         Banyan Drive
  • 1:35 p.m.         Suisan
  • 1:40 p.m.         County of Hawai‘i Building
  • 1:41 p.m.         Hawai‘i State Building
  • 1:45 p.m.         Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School
  • 1:50 p.m.         Hawai‘i County Fire Department Central Station
  • 1:55 p.m.         Hawai‘i County Police Department
  • 1:57 p.m.         Lanakila Housing
  • 2:00 p.m.         Mohouli & Komohana
  • 2:05 p.m.         Hilo High School
  • 2:06 p.m.         Hilo Intermediate School
  • 2:07 p.m.         Lanakila Learning Center
  • 2:10 p.m.         Federal Building, U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in Hilo
  • 2:15 p.m.         Dodo Mortuary

A celebration of Sen. Kahele’s life will be held on Monday, February 8, 2016 at the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.  Visitation begins at 4:00 p.m. Services for a final “Evening of Aloha” begins at 5:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Coast Guard Responds to Report of Flares Off Maui – Rescues Mariner

The Coast Guard rescued a mariner aboard a disabled 18-foot recreational vessel following a report of four red flares off Maui Thursday night.

Cadets and crew aboard Coast Guard Cutter Eagle fire pencil flares off the fantail of the ship as part of a pyrotechnics training session Saturday, July 4, 2009. In recognition of the national holiday, everyone aboard also participated in the Square-Rigger Olympics, pyrotechnics training, and karaoke on the ship's waist later that night. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith)

Cadets and crew aboard Coast Guard Cutter Eagle fire pencil flares off the fantail of the ship as part of a pyrotechnics training session Saturday, July 4, 2009. In recognition of the national holiday, everyone aboard also participated in the Square-Rigger Olympics, pyrotechnics training, and karaoke on the ship’s waist later that night. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Etta Smith)

A Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew located the mariner during a search 5 miles west of Kihei and towed the vessel back to Maui.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received a report of three red flares off Kihei around 9:23 p.m. A fourth flare was sighted by Maui Fire Department personnel from the shoreline shortly after.

The watchstanders launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point and the RBM crew from Maui to respond. The RBM crew sighted the mariner and confirmed he launched the flares before towing him back to Kihei.

“This mariner did everything right with his flares and the case illustrates the importance of having proper emergency gear aboard your vessel,” said Charles Turner, of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “In addition to required flares and flotation we recommend mariners have multiple forms of communication with them including a handheld VHF-FM radio, charged cellular devices and a properly registered personal locator beacon if possible. It’s State law to have a VHF radio on your boat if you’re more than a mile offshore. Communications can be a challenge around the islands and not all devices may have consistent coverage. It’s also a good idea to leave word with friends or family about your voyage and when you intend to return so they can alert responders if you are overdue.”

Flares should never be used as fireworks as they may prompt a Coast Guard search. If you are conducting flare training please contact the Coast Guard to advise them of the location and time of the training to deconflict any search and rescue calls. Flares are especially useful at night and burn red or white. Mariners who choose to further mark their location and signal with chemical lights are asked to use red colored lights as the typical yellow and green and very hard for rescue crews to detect with night vision goggles.

USS Chung-Hoon to Depart on Western Pacific Deployment

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) is scheduled to depart Jan. 27 on a regularly scheduled Strike Group deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean with the John C. Stennis Strike Group.

In 2010 I got to go out to sea with the USS Chung Hoon for a day. http://damontucker.com/2010/04/06/out-to-sea-on-the-destroyer-uss-chung-hoon/

In 2010 I got to go out to sea with the USS Chung-Hoon for a day. http://damontucker.com/2010/04/06/out-to-sea-on-the-destroyer-uss-chung-hoon/

While deployed, Chung-Hoon and its crew of more than 300 Sailors will conduct theater security cooperation and maritime presence operations with partner nations.

The mission of Chung-Hoon is to conduct sustained combat operations at sea, provide primary protection for the Navy’s aircraft carriers and battle groups, as well as serve as escort to Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces and auxiliary ships, and conduct independent operations as necessary.

“Departing on deployment is a significant event in the life of all Sailors.” said Cmdr. Tom M. Ogden, commanding officer of Chung-Hoon. “Months of training, maintenance, and preparations all make a ship ready for deployed operations.  The crew has succeeded at every task leading up to this and deployment will be the capstone of those tremendous efforts.”

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 Detachment 7, homeported at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, is scheduled to embark Chung-Hoon for the deployment. Detachment 7, known as “Paniolo,” is scheduled to deploy with a total of 28 personnel and two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, the U.S. navy’s primary anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare platform.

“I am very excited for the upcoming deployment onboard USS Chung-Hoon, and I am extremely proud of the ‘Paniolo’ pilots, aircrewmen, and maintainers for their hard work and preparation,” said Lt. Cmdr. Justin Eckhoff, HSM-37 Detachment 7’s officer-in-charge. “We are motivated and ready to employ our two MH-60R helicopters in diverse mission areas, including anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, in order to meet the tasking of our ship, air wing, or strike group commander.”

Chung-Hoon is assigned to Carrier Strike Group Three and Destroyer Squadron Twenty One and is homeported in Hawaii as part of U.S. 3rd Fleet and is also part of the Great Green Fleet, an initiative that highlights the Navy’s efforts to transform its energy use to increase operational capability.

Chung-Hoon was commissioned Sep. 18, 2004 and was named after Rear Admiral Gordon Pai’ea Chung-Hoon, who served during World War II and was the first Asian American Flag Officer. He is a recipient of the Navy Cross and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of USS Sigsbee from May 1944 to October 1945.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

Decision to End Search for Marines “Extremely Difficult”

The Coast Guard will suspend the active search at sunset Tuesday for the 12 Marine aviators of Marine Corps Helicopter Squadron 463 off the North Shore of Oahu.

marine search

“A decision to suspend searching without finding survivors is extremely difficult given the depth of its impact and I know I speak for the entire Coast Guard when I say our thoughts and prayers are with Marine Corps helicopter squadron and particularly with families and loved ones of those missing,” said Capt. Jim Jenkins, chief of staff and acting commander, Coast Guard 14th District. “I want to thank all our partners, the Navy, Army, the National Guard, the Hawaii Fire, Police and Ocean Safety for their extraordinary professionalism. I am proud of my Coast Guard crews and most of all thank you to the Marines for your leadership and partnership during this case. I emphasize that as we suspend the search, we pass the baton to the Marine Corps for any follow on actions. We stand ready to support any future maritime operations, and we will continue to provide any comfort we can for those suffering from this terrible loss.”

As of sunset Tuesday, the Coast Guard and military partners will have conducted a cumulative search effort of 40,530 sq. nautical miles, plus the extensive shoreline effort by the Honolulu Fire and Police Departments with Ocean Safety Lifeguard Service. More than 130 individual searches were conducted over five days, a continuous sustained search effort of 115 hours.

Involved in the search were:

Surface assets:
MH-65 Dolphin helicopter & HC-130 Hercules airplane with multiple crews
Navy P-3 Orion airplane with multiple crews
Navy H-60 helicopter with multiple crews
Army H-60 helicopter with multiple crews
Honolulu Fire Department helicopter with multiple crews
Honolulu Police Department helicopter with multiple crews
USS Gridley
USS John Paul Johns
USS Paul Hamilton
USNS safeguard-class ship Military Sealift Command
Mobile Diving & Salvage Unit 1 with ROV
Coast Guard Cutter Kiska & Coast Guard Cutter Ahi
Ocean Safety jet ski teams with multiple crews
Honolulu Fire Department rescue boat
Marines comprising shoreline search teams
Incident Command Post team Honolulu
Incident Command Post team Haleiwa
Coast Guard MSST 91107 & Regional Dive Locker Pacific
Coast Guard Sector Honolulu
Hawaii Army National Guard  & Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

Coast Guard watchstanders in Honolulu received notification of two possible downed military helicopters off the coast of Oahu’s Waimea Bay, each reportedly with six personnel aboard, late Thursday evening prompting the joint search effort. The aircraft were CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters with Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

The Marine Corps has the lead role for any salvage and the ongoing investigation into the cause of the incident.

Coast Guard Rescues Missing Divers Off Molokai

The Coast Guard has rescued three missing divers near Penguin Bank, Molokai, Monday.

Coast Guard Ahi

“The Coast Guard advises all divers to have a dive buoy, signaling device, and reflective equipment,” said Lt. Kevin Edes, command center chief at Sector Honolulu. “This is an outstanding case where effective planning and diligent search efforts brought three people home safe to their families”

The divers were located at 4 p.m. six miles from their original location by a Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu. They brought the divers aboard, confirmed they had no injuries and delivered them to their original vessel. The RB-M crew escorted the recreational vessel safely to Hawaii Kai.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point were also involved in the search. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi was diverted to assist with the search. They have resumed their original search for the Marine aviators off the North Shore. The Hercules airplane has joined them.

Watchstanders at the Sector Honolulu command center received a call at 11:20 a.m., from the operator of a 20-foot cuddy cabin vessel stating he was diving with three friends in the vicinity of Penguin Bank when their vessel began to drift away. The three missing divers waited on the surface of the water while the operator recovered the vessel.

After recovering the vessel and returning to their previous location, he could not locate his companions prompting him to search for them and then call the Coast Guard.

Weather conditions were reported as northeast winds at 10 mph with seas up to 3 feet and 10 miles of visibility.

Life Rafts Found From Missing Marine Helicopters

Search efforts continue Monday for 12 Marine aviators off the North Shore of Oahu.

Coast Guardsmen and a Navy sailor scan the shoreline outside the Haleiwa Incident Command Post in Haleiwa, Hawaii, Jan. 18, 2016. Service members from multiple branches of the military as well as many state and local agencies in Hawaii are searching for 12 Marines who went missing after being involved in a helicopter crash off the the North Shore of Hawaii. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read/Released)

Coast Guardsmen and a Navy sailor scan the shoreline outside the Haleiwa Incident Command Post in Haleiwa, Hawaii, Jan. 18, 2016. Service members from multiple branches of the military as well as many state and local agencies in Hawaii are searching for 12 Marines who went missing after being involved in a helicopter crash off the the North Shore of Hawaii. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read/Released)

Air, surface and shoreline assets are actively searching for the survivors and cataloging debris. Of the four life rafts confirmed to be aboard the two aircraft all have been sighted and three have been recovered. Two assets are working to recover the fourth today, sighted Sunday evening north of  Kahuku by a good Samaritan. There is no indication from the sightings that any survivors have been aboard any of the life rafts.

Over Sunday night a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, the Navy warship and the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska searched. On scene today are:

Aircraft: Surface:  Shoreline:
MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
Navy P-3 Orion
Honolulu Fire Department helicopter
Honolulu Police Department helicopter
(1) Navy warships
USNS Salvor, safeguard-class salvage ship,
supporting Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1
Coast Guard Cutters Kiska and Ahi
(2) Ocean Safety jet ski teams
(65) Marines comprising shoreline search teams
Incident Command Post team Honolulu
Incident Command Post team Haleiwa
Hawaii Army National Guard

As of 8 a.m. Monday responders have conducted 89 searches comprising 21,000 sq. nautical miles (24,150 sq. miles) of search effort. The searches are layered on top of each other to provide multiple perspectives and fresh eyes on scene.

The USNS Salvor, a safeguard-class salvage ship from the Military Sealift Command, arrived on scene late Sunday from Pearl Harbor to support the Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1’s efforts to conduct an underwater search of the last know position of the aircraft off Haleiwa with sonar and a remotely operated vehicle. MDSU-1 conducted searches Sunday but did not sight any debris. Anything located in this search can assist search and rescue planners with their analysis of factors and conditions, allowing them to narrow down the search area and maximize the odds of locating the missing Marines.

“Today our country celebrates Martin Luther King. Jr. who once said ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others.’  As we enter the fourth day of around the clock operations I would submit the men and women responding to this search effort are truly answering Dr. King’s question,” said Lt. Scott Carr, Coast Guard 14th District public affairs officer.  “Our focus is to locate these Marines and know with absolute certainty we’ve thoroughly canvassed every location we might find them.”

Weather conditions Monday are reportedly 11 mph winds, with seas up to 2 feet and swells of 8 feet. A high surf warning issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect for the North Shore of Oahu.

The public is reminded to use caution along the north and west shores of Oahu as the search continues. Debris should be treated as hazardous material and reported to the Marines at 808-257-8458 or 808-257-3023.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Marine Corps.

For questions specific to the Marine Corps please contact the III Marine Expeditionary Force public affairs officer at 808-216-7183.

Coast Guard Continues Search for 12 – Marine Members Identified

As the search for 12 Marine aviators off the North Shore of Oahu enters its second day the Coast Guard and partner agencies have expanded the search along the North Shore from Waianae to Kahuku, extending out to sea eight miles.

As of 6 a.m. Jan. 16, 2016, graphic of combined searches conducted by surface assets (ships, boats and jet ski teams) involved in joint search efforts to locate and rescue 12 Marine aviators involved in an aircraft accident off Oahu's North Shore late night Jan. 14, 2016. Coast Guard search and rescue planners use a variety of systems to plan and coordinate searches. (U.S. Coast Guard graphic by Coast Guard Command Center Honolulu/Released)

As of 6 a.m. Jan. 16, 2016, graphic of combined searches conducted by surface assets (ships, boats and jet ski teams) involved in joint search efforts to locate and rescue 12 Marine aviators involved in an aircraft accident off Oahu’s North Shore late night Jan. 14, 2016. Coast Guard search and rescue planners use a variety of systems to plan and coordinate searches. (U.S. Coast Guard graphic by Coast Guard Command Center Honolulu/Released)

“We’d like to reiterate to the public to use caution along the north and west shores of Oahu as the search continues. Debris should be treated as hazardous material,” said Lt. Scott Carr, Coast Guard 14th District public affairs officer. “Anyone sighting debris is asked to report it to the Marines at 808-257-8458 or 808-257-3023.”

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew taxis for takeoff at Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, Jan. 16, 2016. The Dolphin crew is participating in the second day of search efforts to locate and rescue 12 Marine aviators involved in an aircraft accident off Oahu's North Shore late night Jan. 14, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Barbers Point/Released)

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew taxis for takeoff at Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, Jan. 16, 2016. The Dolphin crew is participating in the second day of search efforts to locate and rescue 12 Marine aviators involved in an aircraft accident off Oahu’s North Shore late night Jan. 14, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Barbers Point/Released)

As of 8 a.m. Saturday morning responders have conducted 22 individual searches covering more than 5,000 sq. nautical miles (5,750 sq. miles). Responders continued the search throughout the night and on scene today are:

Aircraft: Surface assets: Shoreline:
-MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
-Navy P-3 Orion
-Navy H-60 helicopter
-Army H-60 helicopter
-Honolulu Fire Department helicopter
-Honolulu Police Department helicopter
-(2) Navy warships
-Coast Guard Cutters Ahi and Kiska
-(2) Ocean Safety jet ski teams
-(7) 10-person shoreline search teams
-Incident Command Post team Honolulu
-Incident Command Post team Haleiwa
-MSST Honolulu personnel in Haleiwa
Harbor alerting mariners to safety zone
and public safety concerns

Coast Guard watchstanders in Honolulu received notification of two possible downed military helicopters each reportedly with six personnel aboard late Thursday evening prompting the joint search effort.

Weather conditions are reportedly 8 to 12 mph winds, 13 foot swells with surf up to 20-feet and scattered showers. A high surf advisory for Oahu’s North Shore remains in effect through Saturday evening. A small craft advisory has been issued by the National Weather Service and is in effect for all of the Main Hawaiian Islands through Sunday morning.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Marine Corps.

The missing Marines have been identified as:

  • Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas.
  • Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama.
  • Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24,Chaska, Minnesota.
  • Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
  • Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina.
  • Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama.
  • Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas.
  • Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida.
  • Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts.
  • Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.

Boater Access To Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor Is Limited During Emergency Rescue Efforts For Downed Helicopter Crews

Portions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Haleiwa small boat harbor are being used as an emergency command center authorized by the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, and set up by the Honolulu Police Department during multi-agency rescue efforts today for the missing crews of two Marine Corps helicopters which collided last night off Haleiwa. Officers from DLNR’s Division of  Conservation and Resources Enforcement are assisting by checking the shoreline from  Waialua to Kaena Point for any debris.

Haleiwa Harbor

Entry roads to the harbor, one boat launch ramp and a trailer parking area are blocked as emergency vehicles and search helicopters are using the harbor premises.

High surf conditions, including 30 foot waves over the harbor breakwater, are expected to peak this afternoon and evening.  Although boaters may still use one launch ramp closest to Haleiwa Joe’s, they are advised to check marine advisory warnings calling for very high surf. Forecasters are predicting a large and dangerous swell that could bring waves as high as 40 feet to the north-facing shores today.

The Coast Guard is urging people to stay out of North Shore waters, citing a debris field from the collision of the helicopters that stretches for miles.

The adjacent Haleiwa Alii Beach Park will be closed to the public on Friday as crews use the beach as a recovery area in an ongoing military rescue operation, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Chinese Naval Hospital Ship “Peace Ark” in Honolulu, Hawaii

The Chinese naval hospital ship “Peace Ark” docks in front of Aloha Towers in Honolulu, Hawaii today after a completing their 3-month Harmonious Mission-2015.

Peace Ark

The hospital ship Peace Ark of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy set off from Malaysia’s Port Klang at 5:00 pm on September 23 to carry out the task codenamed “Harmonious Mission – 2015”.

Starting from September 23, the ship will visit seven countries and regions around the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, French Polynesia, the United States, Mexico, Barbados, Grenada and Peru, for military diplomacy, medical exchange and cultural communication. It will also provide free medical and humanitarian services.

This is the fifth Harmonious Mission task carried out by the hospital ship Peace Ark after it visited five countries in Asia and Africa in 2010, four countries in Latin America in 2011, eight countries in Asia in 2013 and four countries in South Pacific in 2014.

According to the plan, the hospital ship will arrive at the Port of Brisbane on October 7 for a four-day goodwill visit to Australia.

It is learnt that the medical crew of the mission comprises 118 medical staff from the Navy General Hospital, No.411 and No.413 Hospital of the PLA and the PLA Second Military Medical University, along with a ship-borne heliambulance.


WWII Triple Ace Bud Anderson, WWII and Pearl Harbor Survivors at Dinner Gala

More than a dozen Pearl Harbor and WWII survivors are expected to join WWII Triple Ace Fighter Pilot and Congressional Gold Medal recipient Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson at this year’s 9th annual Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor gala, December 5, at 6 pm.

Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson

Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson

The event is the Museum’s largest fundraiser of the year, and for many WWII survivors, serves as a prelude to the December 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration at Kilo Pier, Pearl Harbor.

“It’s such a privilege to host these WWII heroes at our signature event,” said Kenneth DeHoff, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Executive Director. “The evening is intended to honor the spirit of the men and women who serve our country, and what better way to do this than in the presence of Pearl Harbor and WWII survivors in this historic Hangar 79.”

During WWII, Col. Anderson served two combat tours, escorting heavy bombers over Europe in the P-51 Mustang from November, 1943 through January, 1945. He flew 116 combat missions and destroyed 16.25 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and another one on the ground. In addition to his Congressional Gold Medal of Honor,

Col. Anderson has been decorated 26 times, including 2 Legion of Merits, 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, 16 Air Medals, The French Legion of Honor, and the French Croix de Guerre, as well as many campaign and service ribbons.

Themed, “For Love of Country—Pass It On,” this year’s gala will remember the past, honor the present, and inspire the future, while raising funds for the Museum’s education and restoration programs. The event takes place in the Museum’s historic 86,000 square foot WWII Hangar 79 – its windows still riddled with bullet holes from guns fired on December 7, 1941.

Highlights for the evening include:

7:15 pm: American Flag Art Explosion by Speed Painter and Artist Michael Ostaski.

8:00 pm: Partnership announcement and unveiling of commemorative Nose Art emblem for Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s B-17 Swamp Ghost by Greg Coleman, VP of Worldwide Marketing & Franchise Management at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

8:45 pm: Keynote address by WWII Triple Ace Fighter Pilot and Congressional Gold Medal of Honor recipient Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson. Special performance by American Idol finalist Jordon Segundo

This year marks the 74th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, and according to the United States Navy, more than 40 Pearl Harbor survivors are expected to attend the December 7 commemoration ceremony.

Navy Rethinks Pacific Training that Endangers Whales, Dolphins and Other Marine Life

The US Navy today said it plans to prepare a new environmental impact statement for training and testing exercises in the Pacific Ocean from December 2018 onward, including the use of sonar and explosives that threaten widespread harm to whales, dolphins, other marine mammals and imperiled sea turtles. The move follows a March 31 federal court ruling that the Navy illegally failed to consider restricting military exercises in biologically important areas within the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Study Area to reduce harm to marine mammals.

USS Lake Erie

“The Navy doesn’t need to blow up breeding areas or blast migrating whales with sonar so we’re glad they’re taking a closer look at this critical issue,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Navy doesn’t need continuous access to every square inch of the Pacific. It’s a big ocean, and we need protections for the areas that are particularly important for whales and dolphins.”

The Navy’s current five-year training plan was overturned after a legal challenge in federal court by Earthjustice, representing Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Ocean Mammal Institute. In a September 2015 settlement, the Navy agreed to put important habitat for numerous marine mammal populations off-limits to dangerous, mid-frequency sonar training and testing and the use of powerful explosives during the remainder of the five-year plan, which expires in December 2018.

“The science is clear.  To avoid permanent injuries and death to whales, dolphins and other marine mammals, it is vital to keep Navy sonar and explosives out of the areas these animals need for essential activities like feeding, resting and caring for their young,” explained Earthjustice attorney David Henkin, who represented the conservation groups in the federal court case.  “When it voluntarily agreed to the settlement, the Navy made clear that it can both perform its mission and stay out of important marine mammal habitat.”

“We urge the public to get involved and tell the Navy its new study needs to examine ways to keep destructive training out of vital marine mammal habitat,” said Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of Conservation Council for Hawai‘i.

The public comment period on the new environmental impact statement ends January 12, 2016. The public can submit comments online at http://www.hstteis.com. The public can also attend one of three scoping meetings: December 1 in San Diego, CA; December 3 on Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i; and December 5 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

Despite the March ruling and September settlement, the Navy continues to conduct military exercises that can injure and kill marine wildlife. On November 4, the National Marine Fisheries Service said it is investigating the death of two dolphins that washed ashore near San Diego after Navy ships were using sonar in the area.

“The bottlenose dolphins that died last month off San Diego likely came from a population that numbers less than 400,” said Susan Millward, executive director at the Animal Welfare Institute.  “We need to keep up the pressure on the Navy to do more to protect these highly intelligent and vulnerable animals.”

Ocean mammals depend on hearing for navigation, feeding and reproduction. Scientists have linked military sonar and live-fire activities to mass whale beaching, exploded eardrums and even death. In 2004, during war games near Hawai‘i, the Navy’s sonar was implicated in a mass stranding of up to 200 melon-headed whales in Hanalei Bay, Kaua‘i.

The Navy and Fisheries Service estimate that, over the current plan’s five-year period, training and testing activities will result in thousands of animals suffering permanent hearing loss, lung injuries or death. Millions of animals will be exposed to temporary injuries and disturbances, with many subjected to multiple harmful exposures.

A video on the effects of Navy sonar training on marine mammals is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9gDk29Y_YY

Free Entry to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Veterans Day

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park joins national parks across the country in waiving entrance fees for Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11.

“The men and women who have served our nation have sacrificed much to protect our freedom,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We invite everyone to honor their service and experience the American heritage by visiting their national parks at no charge this Veterans Day,” she said.

Visitors enjoy scenic views of Kīlauea Caldera and the summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u Crater from Crater Rim Trail near Steaming Bluff.   NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Visitors enjoy scenic views of Kīlauea Caldera and the summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u Crater from Crater Rim Trail near Steaming Bluff. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has dozens of veterans among its employees and volunteers. Active duty U.S. military can obtain a free annual Military Pass at the park’s entrance station all year. For more information on the free Military Pass, visit the park website.

The park, which is open 24 hours a day, offers more than 150 miles of hiking trails and many opportunities to appreciate the volcanic landscape, native ecosystem and the Hawaiian culture that define this World Heritage Site. More than a dozen free interpretive programs are offered daily, and special events, including ‘Ike Hana No‘eau cultural workshops, After Dark in the Park presentations, and Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” concerts, are ongoing. Check www.nps.gov/havo for information for all events.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is one of five national park units on the island of Hawai‘i.  Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is also free of charge Veterans Day weekend. There is no admission charged for Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, or the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

Information on special offerings at parks nationwide is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.

Senator Schatz on Syria – Policy is a Strategic Mistake

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement on the Administration’s announcement that it will deploy a small number of Special Operations Forces to Syria:

Senator Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

Senator Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

“The Administration’s announcement that it will deploy Special Operations Forces into Syria to combat ISIL marks a major shift in U.S. policy—a shift that is occurring without congressional debate, is unlikely to succeed in achieving our objective of defeating ISIL and instead threatens to embroil the United States in Syria’s civil war and could bring us into direct confrontation with the Russian Federation military and Syrian government forces.

“In the 16-months since the United States began its participation in the regional fight against ISIL, our military involvement has escalated without a clear sense of how our escalating involvement will achieve our strategic objectives.  With ISIL’s control of northern Syria, we cannot reasonably expect that the deployment of Special Operations Forces would be limited in scope or duration.

“As we have seen from our failed train and equip program, U.S. support for moderate Syrian opposition has its limits. Rather than ratchet up our own involvement, we must look for other opportunities to strengthen the coalition’s ability to effectively prosecute the fight against ISIL.

“This shift in policy is a strategic mistake.  Regardless of my views, the War Powers Resolution requires Congress to debate and authorize the escalation of U.S. military involvement in Syria.”

Hawaii Island Veterans Day Parade November 7th

Major General Arthur “Joe” Logan, the Adjutant General (TAG) for the State of Hawaii, will be honored as military grand marshal of the eighth annual Hawaii Island Veterans Day Parade. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary to Post 3830 (Pahoa) will also be honored during this year’s parade as community parade marshal. The parade will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, in downtown Hilo.

Veterans ParadeThis year’s parade theme, “Celebrate Service,” is intended to honor veterans, celebrate community service, and inspire us with many ways to serve. All veterans, businesses, community service groups, and their families are encouraged to participate or watch.

Logan was appointed as the Hawaii TAG on January 1, 2015. He is a combat veteran with over 36 years of military service, and oversees the training and readiness of 5,500 Soldiers and Airmen of the Hawaii National Guard. He also serves as the Director, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, provides direct support to the Office of Veterans Services, and is the Homeland Security Advisor to the Governor. As a combat veteran, “Logan well understands the importance of service to the nation and its value within our communities,” said Wendell Kaehuaea, the vice chair of this annual event.

Taking over from chair emeritus Dan Kama, this year’s parade chair is Colonel (Retired) Deb Lewis. A combat veteran with nearly 34 years in uniform, she worked side-by-side with the National Guard in Iraq and in her last assignment in Washington State. Lewis shared, “It is our honor to have MG Logan as this year’s grand marshal. The National Guard, our citizen soldiers, serve our communities, state, and country in many ways. Military personnel regularly risk their lives to keep us safe from all types of manmade and natural threats, both foreign and domestic. The Guard has proudly held that tradition for almost 400 years.”

This year’s community parade marshal, the VFW Auxiliary to Post 3830, really understands the many ways each of us, separately and together, can make a difference in the lives of others. The Auxiliary works closely with many groups to assist those who need all types of support, especially veterans, who can often be the most reluctant to seek help.

Lewis and husband Doug Adams (a veteran and parade secretary) were introduced to the Auxiliary at a breakfast right before Adams finished an 18,067 mile bike ride to all 50 states in one year- the Duty, Honor, America Tour – to honor veterans and families. “Most people want to help. Sometimes they are unaware how easy it is for them to improve the quality of life of others in important ways. Teaming up with the VFW Auxiliary and other community-based or veteran support organizations is a great way to benefit everyone,” said Adams.

“We are calling for all veterans to join the parade on Nov. 7, and inviting our island community – businesses, service groups and their families – to participate and be inspired in some way to Celebrate Service,” said Lewis.

Be sure to check out our parade plans, find out about our talented parade units, and the many ways you can “Help Our Heroes” at www.HIVetParade.org

All Veterans, bands, horses, floats, military vehicles and community groups will form up at the staging area near the King Kamehameha statue on Bishop Street. After the helicopter orchid drop, the roaring thunder of parade motorcyclists will lead off the parade shortly after 10 a.m.

The parade route in Hilo will start makai of Pauahi Street and travel mauka to Kilauea Avenue. Next, it will travel north through downtown Hilo until it reaches Waianuenue Avenue and then makai until Kamehameha Avenue. Traveling along Hilo Bayfront, it will return to the starting point. A large American flag and the official reviewing stand will be along Kamehameha Avenue near the soccer field road entrance.

“The Veterans Day Parade can only be held with the generous support of local business and individuals, and through fundraising efforts,” said Kaehuaea. “Our committee members are strictly volunteers who give of their time and efforts to support and organize this parade because of the importance to recognize our Hawaii Island veterans and ohana.” For more information, call Kaehuaea at 640-1435 or email him at bivetparade@yahoo.com.


Chinese Navy Ships to Visit Hawaii

The U.S. Navy announced today that a People’s Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] ship is expected to visit Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Oct. 12-16.

Zheng He (Type 679, Hull 81)

Zheng He (Type 679, Hull 81)

Zheng He (Type 679, Hull 81), a midshipmen training ship, is expected to arrive at 8 a.m. This routine port visit will give Chinese sailors an opportunity to interact with their U.S. counterparts

Foreign Navy ships come to Pearl Harbor-Hickam regularly for scheduled port visits.  Ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force have visited the base twice in recent months.

As part of a planned series of military-to-military exchanges between the two nations, Zheng He will be hosted by USS Chosin (CG 65). Chinese and U.S. naval officers will conduct dialogues to build confidence and mutual understanding.

Senior Captain Yan Zhengming, Superintendent of the Dalian Naval Academy; Senior Captain Xu Ping, Deputy Political Commissar of Dalian Naval Academy; and Senior Captain You Dade, Chief of Training Division of Dalian Naval Academy will be met by Captain Eric Weilenman, Chief of Staff, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.

American and Chinese sailors plan to engage in deckplate level events and sporting events – including soccer, tug-of-war and basketball games – between our sailors. Receptions aboard the Zheng He and USS Chosin are also planned.  Capt. Ye Kaihua is commanding officer of Zheng He; Capt. Kevin Brand commands USS Chosin.

The last port visit by PLA(N) ships to Pearl Harbor-Hickam was in September 2013.

The U.S. Navy is committed to continued engagement to improve mutual understanding, build trust, enhance transparency, and reduce the risk of misperceptions and miscalculations. Military-to-military engagement is an important tool to build trust, encourage multilateral cooperation, enhance transparency, and mitigate risk.

Innovative Wave Power Device Starts Producing Clean Power in Hawaii

With support from the Energy Department and the U.S. Navy, a prototype wave energy device has advanced successfully from initial concept to grid-connected, open-sea pilot testing.

The device, called Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

This pilot testing is now giving U.S. researchers the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the long-term performance of the nation’s first grid-connected wave energy converter (WEC) device to be independently tested by a third party—the University of Hawaii—in the open ocean.

The project supports the Energy Department’s mission to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from clean energy resources, including water. Marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies, which generate power from waves, tides, or currents, are at an early but promising stage of development. Many coastal areas in the United States have strong wave and tidal resources, and more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline, making transmission from these resources more economical.

With further progress towards commercialization, MHK technologies could make substantial contributions to our nation’s electricity needs. To accelerate commercialization of wave energy devices, the Energy Department funds research and development—from laboratory and field-testing of individual components, up to demonstration and deployment of complete utility-scale systems.

The first phase of Azura’s development involved testing a smaller prototype in a wave tank and later deploying a prototype—at the same scale as the new deployment—in a controlled, open-sea area off the coast of Oregon in 2014. Those successful tests helped Azura’s developer, Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) of Portland, Oregon, verify the functionality of the device while collecting comprehensive performance data that could lower the cost of wave energy technologies in the future.

To further advance Azura towards commercialization, NWEI recently launched its grid-connected 20-kilowatt demonstration project at WETS. The current phase of in-water testing at the WETS’s 30-meter test berth has already proven valuable in gathering performance and reliability data from the device in deepwater, open-ocean conditions. The data will be used to further optimize Azura’s performance and refine existing wave energy computer simulations, ultimately supporting commercialization of this technology.

NWEI, with $5 million in additional funding from the Energy Department, will apply lessons learned from this current phase of development to modify the device design in order to improve its efficiency and reliability. NWEI plans to then test the improved design with a full-scale device rated between 500 kilowatts and one megawatt at WETS at even deeper test berths of 60 meters to 80 meters over the next several years, further supporting efforts to build a robust and competitive MHK industry in the United States.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE supports innovative approaches that reduce both the risk and costs of bringing MHK technologies online. Watch our Energy 101: Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy video, and learn more about the Department’s efforts to support MHK research and development.

Navy Teams with State of Hawaii to Combat Mosquitoes

The Navy in Hawaii is partnering with the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health (HDOH) in surveillance and prevention of mosquito-borne diseases.
Mosquito Bite
During an interview on local TV June 11, entomologists Lt. Ryan Larson, of Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit (NEPMU) 6, and Dr. Jeomhee Hasty, of HDOH, showed specimens of mosquitoes and explained the importance of working together to prevent the spread of diseases.

The partnership with HDOH was strengthened when the Navy began to recognize the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases throughout the Pacific last summer.

“Fences don’t stop mosquitos,” Larson told KHON2’s Wake Up 2day audience. “We realized we need to be prepared to respond in case this disease arrived in Hawaii.”

There have been cases of mosquito-borne diseases chikungunya and dengue fever in recent years, according to the HDOH.

“Travelers infected overseas can bring the disease back home where local mosquitos can ‘bite’…and start local transmission of the disease in Hawaii,” said Hasty.

Mosquito surveillance conducted by HDOH since 2010 at Honolulu International Airport supports Hasty’s concern. The mosquito species Aedes aegypti was detected near the airport several times since 2012. This group is more efficient at spreading dengue fever, said Hasty.

The HDOH Navy partnership allows combatting invasive species to move beyond the airport to cover more of the state.

Ryan demonstrated how two different traps are being used in the joint effort. A light trap sucks nocturnal mosquitos in after attracting them with visual cues and carbon dioxide, which mimics human respiration.

He also showed a sentinel trap, which is used for catching day-feeding mosquitos like the ones that carry dengue and chikungunya. Baited with a chemical lure that smells like “the worst pair of smelly socks you can imagine,” this device targets ankle-biting mosquitos, said Ryan.

As for residents of Hawaii, Hasty says using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants can help prevent exposure to harmful mosquito bites. She also recommends eliminating standing water on and around one’s property, which reduces mosquito reproduction.

Navy Civilians Gather in Hawaii for Leadership Development

More than 250 Department of the Navy civilian employees attended a professional workshop May 19-20 designed to enhance their leadership capabilities and help with career development strategies.

Lynn Simpson, U.S. Pacific Fleet's director of total fleet force manpower and personnel, addresses members of the civilian work force May 20 during a panel discussion with members of the Senior Executive Service. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Brian Wilbur)

Lynn Simpson, U.S. Pacific Fleet’s director of total fleet force manpower and personnel, addresses members of the civilian work force May 20 during a panel discussion with members of the Senior Executive Service. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Brian Wilbur)

Hosted by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Civilian Human Resources) and Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), in partnership with Executive Diversity Advisory Council the training, “Cultivating Leadership for the Next Generation,” included members of the Senior Executive Service, flag officers and other Navy experts presented content and information to attendees focused on leadership.

“I believe leaders are born but I also believe there are tools to make leaders better,” said Mark Honecker, executive director and chief of staff, U.S. Fleet Forces. “So by listening to a bunch of different leaders’ perspectives, the participants can find something in each of those leaders that they can take on to better themselves.”

The training event also gave the civil service workers from various commands an opportunity to get to know one another and the senior presenters.

“The greatest benefit I am going to take away from this training will be networking and meeting some of the senior folks and them explaining to us how they got where they are today, what it took to get there and how we can get there,” said Reginald Patterson, PACFLT’s Fleet Personal and Family Readiness Program Manager. “That in itself is invaluable.”

Lynn Simpson, U.S. Pacific Fleet’s director of total fleet force manpower and personnel, shared that studies have revealed networking is one of the most effective ways to get hired for a job and that it is essential for accomplishing missions and creating success at every level in an organization.

“Networking and relationships are key to learning about developmental assignments, career broadening, potential mentors and learning about what is required to become advanced in a particular field of study,” said Simpson.

During the two-day event, many breakout sessions were conducted with smaller groups of people to touch on topics like conflict resolution, workforce planning, building relationships, executive interviewing techniques and leading millennials. The sessions provided a more intimate setting for learning and an opportunity for one-on-one discussions.

“I found the greatest value in the breakout sessions and getting the opportunity to speak directly with the SES’s,” said Lisa Hill, an investigator for Navy Region Hawaii’s Inspector General. “The open-forum sessions provided great person-to-person dialogue.”

Todd Schafer, PACFLT’s executive director and chief of staff, explained the importance of informing the participants on what the demand signal for senior civilian leaders will look like in the future and to help them develop a plan to have the knowledge, skills and abilities to seamlessly step into increasingly demanding leadership positions.

Schafer also expressed his gratitude for everyone involved in the training.

“I would like to thank all the participants who attended this event. It shows their aptitude for learning and ability to take action,’ said Schafer. “I also want to thank all the Senior Executive Service members and flag and general officers who took time to be a part of the event. They truly made it a success.”

Senior officers who spoke during the event include Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet; Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of Pacific Air Forces; Vice Adm. Scott Swift, PACFLT’s incoming commander; and Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii.

“As a civilian work force it is important to see how supportive the uniformed leadership is and how they believe our increased knowledge is just as important to the mission as anything else,” said Ronald Kendrick Jr., Director for Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific.

USNS Mercy and USNS Millinocket To Depart Hawaii for Pacific Partnership Deployment

USNS Mercy 131

Sailors “Man The Rails” as USNS Mercy comes into Pearl Harbor.

The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and the Joint High Speed Vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) are scheduled to depart May 27 for a four-month deployment in support of the Navy’s Pacific Partnership 2015.

The tenth iteration of the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s annual Pacific Partnership mission will take place in the Southeast Asia and Oceania regions over a four-month period beginning in late May.

Host nations will include Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Vietnam.

Getting flown out to the USNS Mercy

Getting flown out to the USNS Mercy

Working at the invitation of each host nation, U.S. Naval forces will be joined by U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force personnel as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and regional partners including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Canada, Timor Leste, Fiji and France to improve maritime security, conduct humanitarian assistance, and strengthen disaster response preparedness.

Isolation chambers inside the USNS Mercy

Isolation chambers inside the USNS Mercy

Born out of the devastation wrought by the 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of Southeast Asia, Pacific Partnership began as a military-led humanitarian response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters.  Building on the success and goodwill of this operation, the hospital ship USNS Mercy returned to the region in 2006 for the inaugural Pacific Partnership mission.  The mission staff expanded to include partner nation militaries and NGOs working to increase the disaster relief capabilities of Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.  Since then, Pacific Partnership has grown in scope and size.

U.S. Navy Capt. Christopher Engdahl, commander of Destroyer Squadron 9, based in Everett, Washington, will lead this year’s mission from Mercy.  USNS Millinocket will be deploying on the Pacific Partnership mission for the first time, with embarked elements of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment.

Partner nation militaries and government agencies, NGOs and host nation planning efforts have focused on collaborative efforts with professionals in the fields of medicine, dentistry, veterinary, public health services, engineering and disaster response.

For more information on Pacific Partnership, visit the official Pacific Partnership website at: