The Coast Guards of the Philippines, US and Japan will hold a weeklong joint maritime exercise in the waters of Luzon beginning Thursday.
The trilateral maritime exercise among the three countries, which will be conducted in the waters of Mariveles, Bataan, is the first ever for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Japan Coast Guard (JCG) amid China’s sweeping territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The exercise followed the government’s installation of five additional navigational buoys in the WPS as it asserted its sovereignty over its waters, but which Beijing also responded by installing its own buoys in the territory that it disputes.
The BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702), BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), BRP Boracay (FPB-2401) and one 44-meter multi-role response vessel will conduct the exercise with USCG’s Stratton (WMSL-752) and JCG’s Akitsushima (PLH-32).
According to the PCG, the trilateral maritime exercise would strengthen interoperability through communication exercises, maneuvering drills, photo exercises, maritime law enforcement training, search and rescue (SAR) and passing exercises.
“Participating Coast Guard personnel will demonstrate a scenario involving a suspected vessel involved in piracy. The joint law enforcement team from the three Coast Guards will conduct a boarding inspection followed by a SAR operation,” it said.
On behalf of PCG commandant Admiral Artemio Abu, PCG Officer-in-Charge Vice Admiral Rolando Lizor Punzalan Jr. said the PCG-USCG-JCG maritime exercise would also improve maritime cooperation and understanding.
“The US Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard have been assisting us in our human resource development program, particularly in law enforcement training. This is a good opportunity to thank and show them what our personnel learned from their programs,” Punzalan said.
The weeklong engagement will also involve a sporting event to strengthen the three Coast Guards’ camaraderie, a special interest exchange for women in maritime law enforcement, and an expert exchange for PCG personnel professional development.