US, PH to focus on naval warfare in bilateral drills

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — The Philippines and United States navies opened the seventh iteration of the "Samasama" bilateral exercises to be held in Manila and the eastern seas of Luzon until Oct. 13.

The Naval Forces Southern Luzon based in Legazpi City, Albay is hosting this year's drills.

During the opening ceremonies, both navies reiterated the importance of interoperability among ally countries to assert a rules-based approach in maintaining peace and order in the Asia Pacific Region.

"A rules-based international order that is being challenged," US 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Karl Thomas said.

“A rules-based international order that is being ripped at and tugged [at] and tested to benefit not all nations but one nation, that is not the fabric that has provided peace and security in this region for so many years," he added.

Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Adm. Toribio Adaci, meanwhile, said the joint training will focus on naval warfare serials – including at-shore and at-sea drills.

Adaci added that the exercises are designed to further improve the interoperability and cooperation between the two naval forces in the field of maritime security operations, maritime situational awareness, logistics, and command and control.

"This is strengthening our competencies, the technical competencies of our sailors, and of course the marines," he said.

Some 700 Filipino sailors and marines are joining in various events.

Participating assets include the BRP Antonio Luna (FF151), AW109 naval helicopter, C-90 aircraft, and a Naval Special Operations Unit.

Navies from Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Australia will also be part of activities like subject matter expert exchanges and humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR).

The Royal New Zealand Navy and the Indonesian Navy are also participating as observers.

Asked why the drills will be held in the eastern side of Luzon and not in the West Philippine Sea, where Chinese intrusions have been observed, Adaci said the exercises are not aimed at any adversary – adding that HADR will also be a major component of the activities.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda, the second strongest typhoon to make landfall in history, where thousands of people died and lost their homes.