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The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived in Trincomalee on April 25 to conduct the 2018 Pacific Partnership mission.

The US naval hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived at the North east Sri Lankan port of Trincomaloee on April 25 th and remain anchored the port for nearly fifteen days as part of  US Pacific partnership 2018 according to Sri Lankan Media reports.

The presence of a US Naval ship at the strategic Trtincomalee port is significant in the light of increase presence of Chinese companies running Sri Lankan ports including Colombo and Hambantota. Tricomalee port has a large oil dump and India has been eyeing on this facility for over fortyyears. India would like to partner with Japan to develop the infrastructure around Trincomallee port for strategic reasons. The current regime in Colombo had promised India to have a foot hold  in Trincomalee port but it remains at the proposal stage for over three decades.

Pacific Partnership 2018 will continue through May 8 and will feature U.S. and other military doctors and medical personnel working side-by-side with Sri Lankan medical professionals to provide treatment to local communities and exchange best practices.  Additionally, U.S. and partner nation service members will join their Sri Lankan counterparts in civil engineering projects, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) readiness training, and public outreach throughout the local community.

"Pacific Partnership 2018 offers an excellent opportunity for the U.S. and Sri Lankan militaries to serve Sri Lankans in need and expand our growing partnership in humanitarian and disaster relief," said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Atul Keshap. "From medical clinics to free public concerts, our sailors will bring the best of America to local communities."

The USNS Mercy contains 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000 bed hospital facility, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen producing plants. The ship is equipped with a helicopter deck capable of landing large military helicopters. It made previous stops in the 2018 mission in Bengkulu, Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After departing Sri Lanka, the USNS Mercy will make stops in Vietnam and Japan to strengthen alliances, partnerships, and multilateral cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

"I am very excited to see our team working with side-by-side with the people of Sri Lanka," said Capt. David Bretz, the mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2018. "Through Pacific Partnership, we are building bonds of trust, friendship, and partnership with the Sri Lankan people that will help us prepare together for a multitude of contingencies that our nations face with man-made and natural disasters. We are honored to be guests in this country and work beside our Sri Lankan counterparts."

Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral disaster response preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. This year’s mission includes military and civilian personnel from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Peru, and Japan. Pacific Partnership 2018 consists of more than 800 U.S. and partner nation military and civilian personnel working side-by-side with host nation counterparts to be better prepared for potential humanitarian aid and disaster response situations.

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