By Mei Jingya, Sina English
The navies of the Philippines and the United States began the annual naval exercises in Mindanao on Monday to enhance interoperability and their respective capabilities, Philippine media reported.
Four Philippline navy ships, joined by two U.S. vessels -- the missile-guiding frigate USS Vandergrift and cutter-ship USCG Waesche, will take part in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise, which starts on Monday and is expected to conclude on July 10. The Philippine and U.S. Coast Guards will dispatch one ship each.
The 2012 CARAT exercises will involve an estimated 400 US Navy and Coast Guard personnel and around 400 members of the Philippine Navy and 150 Philippine coast guards.
The involved units will conduct diving, salvage, at-sea fleet training and shore-based exercises, as well as air operations and search and rescue exercises.
“With this year's exercise, the Philippine Navy will be able to enhance combined interoperability capability with the US Navy and the Philippine-US Coast Guards as well as test their personnel and naval assets operational readiness,” Philippine Navy spokesman Col. Oman Tonsay was quoted as saying.
This year's CARAT is a part of the US-sponsored multi-national naval exercises dubbed the "Rim of the Pacific," which is now unfolded in Hawaii and will last till August 7.
As expected, The Philippine military has also stated that its bilateral exercises with the U.S. are not targeting a third party, say, China.