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US strike group patrolling in South China Sea visits PH

/ 05:47 PM May 20, 2016

An American carrier group patrolling in the South China Sea, the USS John Stennis Strike Group, is scheduled to make a routine port visit to the country on Friday and Saturday, the United States Embassy in Manila said.

The USS Stennis will be in Subic Bay on Friday and in Manila on Saturday.

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The strike group consists of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 embarked, guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDGike 106), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), and USSo William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and guided- missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).

The visit comes after two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a US military reconnaissance aircraft in a routine patrol in the international airspace over the South China Sea this week.
READ: US spy plane dinikitan ng dalawang fighter jets ng China sa South China Sea

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US Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the USS Stennis on its patrol last April while he was in the country.

“We are excited to visit Manila and Subic Bay. This is a great opportunity for our sailors to see the sights and experience the warm hospitality of the Filipino people,” said Rear Adm. Marcus Hitchcock, commander, JCSSG, in a statement.

The embassy said that the strike group uses energy conservation measures and operational procedures in the course of its normal tasking to increase energy efficiency. It also participated in the joint Philippine-American Balikatan exercise last month.
READ: Balikatan 2016 kicks off amid heightened sea row

“While in the Philippines, strike group personnel will conduct cultural exchanges with the people of the Philippines by participating in community relations projects,” the embassy said.

Approximately 8,500 sailors make up the strike group, of whom at least 238 are of Filipino heritage.

Cmdr. Raphael Castillejo, Commanding Officer of USS Stockdale (DDG 106), is among those sailors. He was born at Makati Medical Center and moved to the United States as a boy. He has served in the Navy for 23 years and is looking forward to returning to his hometown for this port visit, the embassy said.

Logistics Specialist First Class Don Salamero, a crew member, was born and raised in Daet, Camarines Norte in Bicol Region. RAM/rga

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TAGS: patrol, Philippines, South China Sea, USS John Stennis Strike Group
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