Philippine, US start Naval exercise in S China Sea

Updated: 2013-06-27 10:54


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Philippine, US start Naval exercise in S China Sea

Crewmen work on the US submarine USS Olympia which is docked at Subic Freeport, a former US naval base, 112.6 km (70 miles) west of Manila in this Oct 8, 2012 file photo. The Philippine military has revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay, a former US naval base.[Photo/Agencies]

MANILA - The Philippines and US Naval forces began joint military exercises at the South China Sea on Thursday, with an opening ceremony at the former US Naval base in Subic.

The Philippine military and local media have said that the current military drills, codenamed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), is to be held near China's Huangyan Island ( also known as Scarborough Shoal). But the Philippine Navy said the exercise has nothing to do with last year's incident at the Huangyan Island, as this was finalized by Filipino and American officials as early as 2010.  

The Philippines sent BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the country's first Hamilton-class cutter converted from a retired US ship in 2011. The Philippine Coast Guard is to deploy the search and rescue ship BRP Edsa, a helicopter and a diving team.

The US side dispatched guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, which arrived at Subic Thursday, salvage ships, Marine troops and specialized personnel for the exercise.

"The 19th CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the US Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste," the US embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Philippine Naval Forces Northern Luzon Commodore Nodolfo Tejada said the major objective of the exercise is to enhance the capability of both sides through practical exercises and lectures.

The exercise, which includes civil military operations, is anticipated to "increase the level of interoperability between the Philippine Navy and US Navy in the conduct of combined naval operations," he added.