A rare three-nation naval drill involving the Philippines, United States (US) and Japan was held in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Naval public affairs officer Lt. Cmdr. Marideth Domingo said it was the first time that the Philippines held naval exercises with Japan considering the absence of a bilateral agreement between the two countries.
“We conducted formation exercises, live gunnery exercises, and night publication exercises,” Domingo said.
“This is purely for training purposes and the West Philippine Sea area is the most appropriate venue,” she noted.
The Philippines’ BRP Gregorio del Pilar, USS Antietam and Japanese destroyer Sazanami joined the two-day naval drills that ended yesterday. The USS Antietam is part of the strike group of the carrier USS George Washington which is now anchored off Manila Bay.
The Philippines and China are locked in a territorial dispute over some reefs, islets and shoals within the Spratly group of islands in the West Philippine Sea. Japan also has a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.