US, PHL navies kick off bilateral maritime training

The United States Navy and Philippine Navy kicked off the week-long Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama at Naval Station Ernesto Ogbinar in San Fernando City, La Union on July 9, the US Navy said.

The maritime training is divided into shore and at-sea phases.

In the at-sea phase to be held in West Philippine Sea, US Navy expeditionary fast transport USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3), diving and salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) and a P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft will operate with Philippine Navy frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF 16) and landing dock ship BRP Tarlac (LD 601).

The US Navy said at-sea drills will include 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) designed to enhance capabilities in aid-and-assistance to distressed mariners.

“Shore phase evolutions include symposiums and seminars on a wide range of naval capabilities including medical, public affairs, engineering, explosive ordnance disposal and anti-submarine and surface operations in various locations,” the US Navy said.

Personnel from Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will also be present as “observer and valued partner.”

“The name of this Maritime Training Activity, Sama Sama, – meaning ‘together, jointly’ – perfectly captures the spirit and energy of this tremendous event. The U.S. and Philippine alliance has always been a special relationship based on mutual trust and respect and strengthened by enduring maritime engagements,” said Rear Admiral Joey Tynch, Commander, US Navy Seventh Fleet Task Force 73. “Built on 70 years of strong friendship and deep historical ties, our shared interest in maritime security is what Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama is all about – our shared belief that regional challenges increasingly require cooperative solutions by capable naval forces.”