DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Naval forces of the United States and the Philippines will hold a weeklong maritime training in Cebu from June 19 to 25.

The Maritime Training Activity, dubbed “Sama Sama” (together), will focus on mutual security concerns that affect the Philippines, including piracy and sea smuggling, maritime domain awareness and patrol, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness.

In a statement on Monday, the US Embassy in Manila said U.S. assets participating in this year’s exercise include the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) and the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF-3) along with a P-8 Poseidon aircraft.

“Marines assigned to the III Marine Expeditionary Force, Navy Seabees, and staff from Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 will also participate,” it said.

Task Force 73 is the US 7th Fleet’s “executive agent for theater security operation” in South and Southeast Asia. It conducts advance planning, organizes resources and supports directly with the execution of maritime exercises, including the Pacific Partnership, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam, and the multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The Philippine Navy units for the said exercies will include the Del Pilar Class Frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), BRP Agta, an AW109 helicopter, and a BN-2 Islander aircraft.

Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander of Task Force 73 said the exercise “will provide excellent opportunities to deepen our long-time maritime partnership with the Philippine Navy.”

“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 said in a statement Monday.

Commodore Loumer P. Bernabe of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said the Philippine Navy is honored to work with the US Navy.

“Our training together will strengthen our relationships at the operator level and will also strengthen our alliance and partnership in maritime cooperation,” he added.

The U.S. and the Philippines conduct regular personnel exchanges through routine participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises such as Balikatan, Southeast Asian Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), the Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC), the Asian Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus), and many other bilateral subject matter expert exchanges. (davaotoday.com)

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