US, PHL ships sail together in Sulu Sea

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United States Coast Guard Legend-class cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL 752), Military Sealift Command Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3), US Navy Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), and Philippine Navy ship BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS 17) steamed in formation together on October 17 in Sulu Sea during a photo exercise as part of Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama 2019.

US NAVY photo

This is the third iteration of MTA Sama Sama, a maritime exercise designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance maritime interoperability.

This is the first year the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will participate, alongside U.S. and Philippine naval counterparts.

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, who oversees security cooperation for the U.S. Navy in Southeast Asia, said that Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama demonstrated an evolution toward multilateral training and networked security.

“We are strongest when we sail together” said Tynch. “MTA Sama Sama gives us a great chance to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends, partners, and allies, the Philippine Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. We train together, so that together we can face threats to
maritime security.”

The exercise will consist of both shore-based and at-sea activities designed to allow participating navies to undertake complex maritime training utilizing diverse naval platforms and operating areas.

Shore phase events will include a series of subject matter expert exchanges on a range of naval capabilities, including maritime domain awareness, force protection, medical care, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, explosive ordnance disposal, dive and salvage operations, engineering, aviation, and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations.

The at-sea phase will include VBSS drills, division tactics, a search and rescue exercise, helicopter deck landing qualifications, anti-air and surface warfare tracking, and vessel of interest tracking.

Participating U.S. Navy assets include the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8), the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3), the Safeguard-class salvage ship USNS Salvor (ARS 52), the Legend-class cutter USCG Stratton (VMSL 752) and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft.