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Pacific Partnership exercise to return to Sri Lanka

22 February 2018 - 113   - 0

The Asia-Pacific’s largest humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief preparedness mission is returning to Sri Lanka as the United States continues to cultivate partnerships in the region.

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, Stripes reported.

The Sri Lanka navy band performs as the USNS Fall River arrives in Hambantota for its Pacific Partnership 2017 mission. JOSHUA FULTON/U.S. NAVY

More than 800 personnel from the Navy and other countries are involved in the mission, which began in response to the deadly tsunami that ravaged parts of the region in 2004.

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. 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.

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