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US warship makes port call in Manila

/ 03:28 PM December 01, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The American amphibious assault ship USS Essex is in Manila for what the US Embassy described as a “routine port call and goodwill visit.”

The four-day Manila stopover of the 40,650-ton vessel, nicknamed “The Iron Gator,”  highlights the “strong historic community and military connections between the US and the Philippines,”  the embassy said.

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The USS Essex, which has  a complement of more than 2,900 troops and is based in Sasebo, Japan, is “visiting Manila to engage with their counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and to allow the crew an opportunity for rest and relaxation,” it added.

“It’s in town today… just for a few days,” embassy spokesperson Tina Malone told the Inquirer.

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Raul Hernandez, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said in a text that “this is one of the usual port calls made by US ships for routine replenishment, maintenance of shipboard systems and crew liberty.”

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), meanwhile, said that “these port calls are again part of US power projection in the region, this time taking place in the context of the Spratlys dispute.”

“The US wants to project that it is still the ‘top dog’ in this region, as what President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent pronouncements show,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr.

Reyes said “the Philippine government allows our country to be used for American power projection because of the belief that Washington is helping our cause when all we get is US military junk.”

“The port calls may also add unnecessary tension to the Spratlys dispute because China is wary of US intervention,” he added.

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TAGS: Foreign affairs, Military, US Navy, Visiting Forces Agreement
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