PHL, US navy ships hold drills in West Philippine Sea

While their sister ships landing platform dock BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) and frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) are participating in RIMPAC 2018 in Hawaii – landing platform dock BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) conducted maritime drills in West Philippine Sea with United States Navy as part of Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama 2018.

USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) sails into formation with the Philippine Navy ships BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and a Philippine Navy Agusta Westland-AW109 helicopter during the at-sea portion of Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama 2018, July 12. US Navy photo

MTA Sama-Sama, started July 9, is a week-long engagement which focuses on the full spectrum of naval capabilities and is designed to strengthen the close partnership between both navies while cooperatively ensuring maritime security, stability and prosperity.

Among the at-sea phase drills of MTA Sama-Sama, according to US Navy, are air defense exercises (ADEX) aimed to increase proficiency in air and missile defense, diving exercises (DIVEX) to promote mutual efficiency underwater, and search and rescue exercises (SAREX).

Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Lichon and Philippine Navy Lt. j.g. Zyrelle Fuentes deploy a “Killer Tomato” floating target in preparation for a live-fire evolution aboard USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) during the at-sea portion of Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama 2018, July 13. US Navy photo

“This training provides us with an exceptional opportunity for both Philippine and US Navies to engage in a broader range of maritime operations and unique scenarios in our maritime areas. In this way, we could explore for more cooperation, enhance our interoperability, and provide us effective mechanisms for collaboration and partnership of our Navies in the spirit of our mutual treaty engagement,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) commander Lieutenant General Emmanuel Salamat during the opening ceremony at Naval Station Ernesto Ogbinar in San Fernando City, La Union .

“Notably, this Maritime Training Activity demonstrates the extraordinary commitment of our Navies in building and strengthening our partnership in keeping with our bilateral relations as long time ally. As such, this year’s exercise focuses on developing mutual capabilities in addressing maritime security priorities and concern for mutual benefits and interests,” he said.