30 Apr 2011

Pacific Partnership team welcomed in Vanuatu's Luganville

9:18 am on 30 April 2011

The US Commander of Pacific Partnership has been welcomed in a ceremony by island chiefs on Vanuatu's Luganville.

The chiefs offered up a sacrificial pig to mark the start of the US military led international aid mission to Vanuatu.

The arrival of ships from the United States, New Zealand and Australia is the biggest military show seen on Santo in Vanuatu's north since the Second World War.

Sally Round reports from the HMNZS Canterbury in Luganville.

"The Chiefs invited US Navy Captain Jessie Wilson Junior to make a symbolic strike on the pig's head. The ceremony marks the start of a two week Vanuatu phase of a five month long mission to deliver aid and disaster preparedness to Santo and other Pacific islands. The commodore spoke of long held ties with Vanuatu, forged during the Second World War, when US military engineers helped drain swap land to pave the way for Luganville. Teams from mainly Australia, New Zealand and the US will offer dental and medical care, improve water supplies and coordinate with local officials on how to respond to cyclones and tsunamis."