Wednesday, June 15, 2011

US uses Safeguard for training in West PH Sea

By ABS-CBN News, Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MANILA, Philippines - Navy units from the Philippines, United States and other Southeast Asian nations are doing training exercises in the West Philippine Sea, more popularly known as the South China Sea, amid territorial tensions in the area.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said the training, called Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), is only meant “to enhance interoperability and share practices.”

The other delegates are from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei and Malaysia are also involved in the South China Sea territorial dispute.

Tonsay said the Philippine Navy has deployed three ships for the training.

The US, on the other hand, will be using the USNS Safeguard, which is a rescue and salvage ship.

"They will participate together with the US Navy in a scenario-driven fleet training exercise against terrorism, transnational crimes and other maritime threats which focuses on real time information exchange, coordinated surveillance operations, tracking, and eventual conduct of Visit Board Search and Seizure to the maritime Contact of Interest,” Tonsay said.

He explained the SEACAT is an annual event, with the venue determined in advance.

"Venues have been determined in advance during coordinated planning sessions and are finalized following confirmation from all participating navies. This exercise aims to promote regional coordination, information sharing and interoperability in a multilateral environment," said Tonsay.

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