The U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) participated in a passing exercise (PASSEX) with the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) and the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331), May 15. 2018.
PASSEX is an exercise in which multiple naval ships operate in close proximity of one another to help strengthen the ship’s abilities to perform in complex maneuvering, logistics, and humanitarian relief operations.
“This PASSEX was a unique opportunity for us to engage with one of our partner nations,” said Capt. David Bretz, mission commander, Pacific Partnership 2018. “I was very impressed with the skill and professionalism of the crew of the Vancouver and we are grateful for the opportunity to have shared this experience with them today.”
Evolutions that took place during the exercise included transferring ten Canadian sailors to the Mercy via helicopter, where Mercy medical staff held a medical readiness team training exercise and exchanged knowledge with Canadian sailors.
“We never know when either of our countries, or both, are going to be called to help out, so the more that we can practice together the better it is going to make it when we actually have to work together,” said Canadian Navy Lt. Tony Wright, assigned to Vancouver. ”We are both partners in securing peace and stability in this region so any time we have an opportunity to get together and share our best practices, it’s really important that we do that.”
Simultaneously, ten U.S service members from Mercy visited the Vancouver, where Canadian sailors demonstrated a damage control drill and exchanged information to strengthen and build lasting relationships between the partner nations.
“It was a great opportunity to go aboard the Canadian ship today,” said Yeoman 1st Class Frank Morrell, from Saint Mary’s, Georgia who is assigned to Mercy. “Seeing how they executed damage control drills and how similar it was to how we conduct the same drills aboard our ship, made me realize that if a natural disaster were to occur our teams would be able to work alongside each other easily.”
The exercise concluded with both countries Sailors returning to their ships, where the three ships separated to continue on with their respective missions.
Mercy and Brunswick are participating in Pacific Partnership 2018 (PP18), the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. PP18’s objective is to enhance regional coordination in areas such as medical readiness and preparedness for man-made and natural disasters.
Pacific Partnership 2018 consists of more than 800 U.S., partner and host nation personnel working side-by-side to better prepare for potential humanitarian aid and disaster response situations.
MC3 Cameron Pinske, Pacific Partnership