THE Philippines was a popular destination for foreign warships this week, with the visit to Manila by two vessels from the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet, and a port call at Subic by a pair of destroyers from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Division Four.
The Russian ships Admiral Tributs, an antisubmarine ship, and Boris Butoma, a sea tanker, under the overall command of Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov, Deputy Commander of Flotilla of Pacific Fleet of Russia, arrived in Manila’s South Harbor for a five-day goodwill visit on January 2, and will conduct a passing exercise as they depart today (January 7) with Philippine Navy vessels off Corregidor.
A passing exercise is a common exercise practiced by friendly navies, to ensure proper communications and safe maneuvering when they are participating in actual operations.
The visit of the Russians follows diplomatic overtures by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has expressed a wish to cultivate closer ties between the Philippines and Russia.
Admiral Mikhailov suggested that the Russian Navy could assist their Philippine counterparts in developing greater anti-piracy capabilities, in light of the persistent problem of piracy in the southern waters between the Philippines and Indonesia. The Admiral Tributs and its escort have served extended tours on anti-piracy patrols as part of a multi-national force in the Gulf of Aden, according to information from the Russian Navy.
The arrival of the two ships was the third time Russian Navy vessels have visited the Philippines in recent. In January 2012, three vessels also returning to Russia from anti-piracy duties off the Horn of Africa stopped in Manila, as did a hydrographic survey ship in May of last year.
This five-day visit included series of “confidence building engagements” between Philippine and Russian personnel, according to a Philippine Navy statement, as well as public demonstrations by Russian marines and tours of the Russian vessels.
Japanese ships call at Subic
Also returning to their home country from anti-piracy duties in the Gulf of Aden, the two ships of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Division Four under the command of Captain Atsushi Minami arrived for a rest and resupply stop in Subic on January 4.
The two ships, JS Inazuma (DDG-105) and JS Suzutsuki (DD-117), are both destroyers.
The Japanese ships were also scheduled to conduct a passing exercise with Philippine Navy ships prior to their departure for Japan today.