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PHL, US navies hold maritime training exercise in Cebu

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 6/20/2017 Jimenez, Raffy
Philippines and USA flag composite © Provided by GMA News Online Philippines and USA flag composite

The Philippine and US navies kicked off their maritime training exercise in Cebu province on Monday aimed at strengthening the country's maritime security capabilities.

Dubbed as "Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama," the US Embassy in Manila said the exercise will focus on the Philippines' security concerns on piracy and sea smuggling, maritime domain awareness and patrol, and improve the Navy's disaster response measures.

Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, commander of the US 7th Fleet's Task Force 73, welcomed the activity, saying it's another opportunity for the long-time allies to strengthen their partnership.

"The training we will perform over the next week will provide excellent opportunities to deepen our long-time maritime partnership with the Philippine Navy," Gabrielson said.

"We thank the Philippine Navy and the people of the Philippines for being gracious hosts and we look forward to enhancing our professional ties in meaningful ways that benefit both nations," he added.

Commodore Loumer Bernabe, who represents the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said he expects the training to improve the relationship of the two navies down to the operational level.

"We are honored to work with the US Navy during this Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama," said Bernabe. "Our training together will strengthen our relationships at the operator level and will also strengthen our alliance and partnership in maritime cooperation."

Meanwhile, Capt. Alexis Walker, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7, called the maritime training as an "ideal framework" for the Philippine Navy to "enhance readiness through training and evolution ashore and at sea."

"With more than 20 years of experience working together, we are able to plan and execute exercises like the Maritime Training Activity that address shared maritime security priorities and enhance interoperability between our two navies," Walker said.

The US Navy will deploy several naval vessels for the training, including one of its littoral combat ships, USS Coronado, expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket, and a P-8 Poseidon aircraft.

Troops from the III Marine Expeditionary Force, Navy Seabees, and staff from Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 will also participate.

On the other hand, the Philipine Navy's Del Pilar Class frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, BRP Agta, an AW109 helicopter, and a BN-2 Islander aircraft will be deployed for the exercise. A Marine company and other naval staff will also participate. — Joseph Tristan Roxas/RSJ, GMA News

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