THE Philippine and United States navies kicked off on Monday the Maritime Training Activity focused on mutual security concerns affecting the Philippines, including maritime domain awareness and patrol.
The week-long maritime exercise being held in Cebu province is designed to enhance the complexity and diversity of training opportunities, while strengthening the long-standing alliance between the Philippines and the US.
Commodore Loumer Bernabe of the Philippine Navy said the joint maritime training dubbed as “Sama-Sama” (together) provides opportunities for both navies to learn and operate together at sea and foster professional dialogue between them.
“Our training together will strengthen our relationships at the operator level and will also strengthen our alliance and partnership in maritime cooperation,” Bernabe added in a statement.
The exercise will focus on mutual security concerns, including sea smuggling and piracy that have been affecting the Philippines.
It would also help the Philippine Navy obtain a better picture of maritime domain through maritime domain awareness and patrol.
The two navies will also carry out training activities involving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness.
Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander of Task Force 73, said the training would offer opportunities to the US Navy to deepen its long-time maritime partnership with the Philippine Navy and in enhancing professional ties that benefit both nations.
As US 7th Fleet’s executive agent for theater security cooperation in South Asia and Southeast Asia, Task Force 73 conducts advanced planning, organizes resources and directly supports the execution of maritime exercises, such as Pacific Partnership, the Naval Engagement Activity with Vietnam and the multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training with Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
US assets participating in this year’s exercise 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 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Navy Seabees and staff from the commander of Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 will also participate.
The Philippine Navy would be deploying Del Pilar Class Frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), BRP Agta, an AW109 helicopter and a BN-2 Islander aircraft as well as a company of the Philippine Marines and other naval staff.
The US and the Philippines had been involved in a number of initiatives and conduct regular personnel exchanges through routine participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises such as Balikatan, Southeast Asian Cooperation and Training, Rim of the Pacific exercise or Rimpac, Asian Defense Ministers’ Meeting and many other bilateral exchanges. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA