Philippine, U.S. start Naval exercise in South China Sea

2013-06-27 02:25:37 GMT2013-06-27 10:25:37(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

The Philippines and U.S. Naval forces began joint military exercises at the South China Sea on Thursday, with an opening ceremony at the former U.S. Naval base in Subic.

The Philippine military and local media have said that the current military drills, codenamed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), is to be held near China's Huangyan Island ( also known as Scarborough Shoal). But the Philippine Navy said the exercise has nothing to do with last year's incident at the Huangyan Island, as this was finalized by Filipino and American officials as early as 2010.

The Philippines sent BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the country's first Hamilton-class cutter converted from a retired U.S. ship in 2011. The Philippine Coast Guard is to deploy the search and rescue ship BRP Edsa, a helicopter and a diving team.

The U.S. side dispatched guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, which arrived at Subic Thursday, salvage ships, Marine troops and specialized personnel for the exercise.

"The 19th CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste," the U.S. embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Philippine Naval Forces Northern Luzon Commodore Nodolfo Tejada said the major objective of the exercise is to enhance the capability of both sides through practical exercises and lectures.

The exercise, which includes civil military operations, is anticipated to "increase the level of interoperability between the Philippine Navy and U.S. Navy in the conduct of combined naval operations," he added.

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