October 11, 2023
MANILA – Navy ships from the Philippines, United States, Japan and Canada sailed together in a show of solidarity this week in waters off southern Luzon as part of the sea phase of Exercise “Sama-Sama” (together).
The Philippine Navy’s frigate BRP Antonio Luna, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s destroyer JS Akebono, the Royal Navy’s offshore patrol vessel HMS Spey, the US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey and the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Vancouver steamed in formation near the Philippine Sea as part of the joint naval exercise.
The formations signified “unity, unwavering commitment and success in performing well” to achieve the objectives of the exercise, according to the Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol).
2,000 personnel take part
After sailing together, the ships conducted an air defense exercise that focused on tracking and identifying an approaching aircraft.The training also included a maritime domain awareness exercise, in which Philippine and US Navy ships “performed the appropriate protective formation while understanding the maritime domain, vessel movements and environmental conditions” before training to board a maritime vessel for law enforcement, Navforsol said.
A US Navy surveillance plane and the Philippine Navy’s King Air C90 also joined the exercise aircraft to demonstrate information sharing. In addition, the BRP Antonio Luna and USS Dewey took part in a training on replenishment at sea approaches with supply ship USNS Wally Schirra, where they practiced transfer of fuel and other supplies.
Nearly 2,000 personnel are taking part in the annual “Sama-Sama” exercise, which also includes observers and experts from Australia, France, New Zealand and Indonesia.
The drills, which will run from Oct. 2 to Oct. 14, are being held amid high tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely. INQ