US, PH navies partner on repair, maintenance of 2 ships in Subic—US Embassy

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US Enbassy. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Sailors from the Philippine and United States Navy have partnered this week to exchange fleet experience, share technical knowledge and undertake repair and maintenance work on two ships currently docked at the Subic Bay Freeport, a former American naval base in Zambales.

The US Embassy said in a statement that Filipino and American sailors are working together for joint repair and maintenance of the US submarine USS Frank Cable and the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a former American Coast Guard cutter acquired by the Philippine Navy as its flagship last year.

The partnership is under the PH-US Acquisition Cross Servicing Agreement, which allows the Philippines “to meet material requirements” for sourcing and upkeep of defense assets.

The US has standing ACSAs with multiple defense allies around the world, enabling the exchange of logistics.

The US Embassy said Filipino and American sailors are “exchanging knowledge, honing basic engineering and technical skills, and improving their ships’ interoperability” in this week’s joint program.

“Side by side, the two ships’ crews are engaging in subject matter expert exchanges that include inspecting diesel and gas turbine engines, troubleshooting gunnery systems, and conducting numerous other repairs to critical shipboard systems,” the Embassy said in a statement.

“They are also swapping their fleet experiences, gaining insights that cannot be found in their vast libraries of technical publications,” the US post in Manila said.

USS Frank Cable docked in Subic Bay on Sept. 3 on a routine port call and goodwill visit that “highlights the mutual benefits of the Philippine-US defense relationship,” the Embassy said.

This followed the visit of USS Milius, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer that docked at the Manila Bay last month.

Also part of the continuing PH-US defense partnership, the US Coast Guard is expected to turn over to the Philippine Navy another Weather High Endurance Cutter in 2013.  The ship will be named BRP Ramon Alcaraz upon arrival in Manila, the US Embassy said.

“While built upon the hulls of former U.S. Coast Guard Cutters, these ships are expected to become fully functional naval frigates, capable of sustained patrolling and operations at sea,” said the Embassy.

The Embassy said US ships will continue visits to the Philippines as American sailors intend “to continue their partnerships and subject matter expert exchanges with Philippine Navy Sailors to further improve the material condition and training of the Philippine Navy while further strengthening the U.S.-Philippines military relationship.”

Pushing its protest against PH-US defense partnership, militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan warned of the creeping American presence in the Philippines, saying the US is “regaining foothold” in the country two decades since the Senate booted out US bases.

“With the US rebalancing of its forces towards Asia, we expect more of these so-called ship repairs to take place. US bases are definitely back, but under a different name. The Senate should look into this anomaly. This is another violation of our sovereignty as we are being made to host US warships against our own national interest,” said Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes.

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