Jul 022013



MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine-US joint military exercise, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, concluded on Tuesday after six days of a series of shore-based and at sea events.

The ceremony was held on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), the United States Embassy said in a statement.

Shore-based training events covered several naval competencies, including jungle warfare and marksmanship; tactical combat casualty care; riverine small boat operations; visit, board, search and seizure; and diving and salvage.

In the exercises 60 nautical miles east of Panatag, an area claimed both by China and Philippines, the Fitzgerald conducted maneuvering, communications and gunnery exercises with the Philippine Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15) and the Philippine coast guard salvage and rescue vessel BRP Edsa (SARV 02).

Panatag Shoal, an area contested by Philippines and China, is located 124 nautical miles off Zambales, but is well within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The dispute led to a maritime standoff between the Philippines and China last year. The incident prompted Manila to seek the United Nations’ arbitration.

Participating ships included the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) with embarked Commander, Task Group 73.1/ Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 staff, and the diving and salvage ships, USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) and USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52). A company of Marines from India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment participated in the shore-based events.

“It was a pleasure to work side-by-side with our longstanding allies in the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard,” said Capt. Paul Schlise, commander of Task Group (CTG) 73.1.

“The ships of the combined Task Group performed very well during close maneuvering, gunnery and communications drills at sea; and the professional interactions between subject matter experts from both the US and Philippines substantially advanced the capability and level of inter-operability of our forces,” he said.

More than 600 US Sailors and Marines participated in CARAT 2013, and will depart Subic Bay this week to resume their regular duties, the US Embassy said.

The US Pacific Fleet conducts Carat with its allies in the Asia-Pacific region, including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor and the Philippines.

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Tags: Features , Global Nation , Military exercises , sea disputes , US Navy , USS Fitzgerald , West Philippine Sea

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