PH, US to hold joint maritime exercises in Visayas
The Philippine and US navies will hold joint maritime exercises in the Visayas this week.
Dubbed as “Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama,” the joint drills will focus on mutual security concerns that affect the Philippines including piracy and sea smuggling, maritime domain awareness and patrol, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness, the US Embassy in Manila said on Monday.
The drills will be held from June 19 to 25 in the vicinity of Cebu.
The activity is also designed “to enhance the complexity and diversity of training opportunities, while strengthening the longstanding alliance between the US and the Republic of the Philippines.”
“The training we will perform over the next week will provide excellent opportunities to deepen our long-time maritime partnership with the Philippine Navy,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Task Force 73.
“‘Sama Sama’ or ‘together’ is the central theme of the training both at sea and ashore. The exercise provides valuable opportunities for both navies to learn and operate together at sea and foster professional dialogue during subject matter expert exchanges,” the embassy said.
Commodore Loumer P. Bernabe of the Philippine Navy said that the exercises will boost the relationship of the two countries at “the operator level” and will also “strengthen the alliance and partnership in maritime cooperation.”
The Philippines and US, as longtime allies, conduct exercises and other bilateral activities regularly including the Balikatan, Southeast Asian Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), the Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC), the Asian Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus), and many other bilateral subject matter expert exchanges.
US assets that will be used include the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) and the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF-3) along with a P-8 Poseidon aircraft. Marines assigned to the III Marine Expeditionary Force, Navy Seabees, and staff from Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 will also participate.
The Philippine Navy units will include the Del Pilar Class Frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15), BRP Agta, an AW109 helicopter, and a BN-2 Islander aircraft. A Philippine Marine company and other naval staff will also join the exercise. Frances Mangosing/JE
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