USS Wasp, SPMAGTF 4 arrives in Philippines following Exercise Balikatan

Security & Defense

The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), with embarked Marines from Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) 4, led by the 4th Marine Regiment, arrived in Subic Bay on April 12, 2019 following their participation in Exercise Balikatan.

During the exercise, which ran from April 1-12, Philippine, U.S. and Australian forces conducted multiple combined or joint inter-operability events that tested and enhanced the services’ abilities to work together under different circumstances. These events included counterterrorism training, amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations training, and aviation operations primarily throughout Luzon as well as out at sea.

“Balikatan 2019 was a terrific opportunity to train with our partners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Capt. Jim McGovern, commander Amphibious Squadron Eleven. “The addition of advanced platforms like the Wasp and F-35B brought a new element to the exercise, showed how important this relationship is, and will strengthen our ability to work together to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

This was the first Exercise Balikatan to incorporate the Wasp with the embarked United States Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning II aircraft. Participating in Balikatan demonstrates their ability to quickly forward deploy in support of an ally should a crisis or natural disaster occur.


This year’s Balikatan focused on maritime security and amphibious capabilities, as well as multinational interoperability through military exchanges. Exercises like Balikatan strengthen international partnerships and the participating militaries’ abilities to rapidly respond in unison to crises throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

USS Wasp is the flagship for the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group and is currently forward deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to provide a ready-response force for any type of contingency. USS Wasp (LHD 1) Public Affairs