WARSHIPS from six countries joined the Philippine Navy in training maneuvers off the coast of Luzon in a show of solidarity and cooperation.
The exercise, Samasama (Together) 2023, highlights the commitment of the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia to support an ally, the Philippines, Lt. Kim Paulo Lopez, director for Naval for South Public Affairs Office, said
Vice Admiral Carl Thomas, commander of the US 7th Fleet, said the exercise allows participating nations to develop interoperability.
“Exercises like Samasama allow us to train and demonstrate our resolve, to sharpen our ability, and to enhance our interoperability. In the preamble of the US/Philippine treaty, the parties reaffirm their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments and to strengthen the fabric of peace in the Pacific area,” Thomas said.
Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adani agreed that the exercise is about “enhancing interoperability, fostering regional cooperation and tackling non-traditional challenges that transcend our borders. From territorial defense to countering transnational crimes, Samasama equips us to face an array of threats together.”
The exercise was held days after Philippine Navy vessels completed a resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal despite blocking attempts by the Chinese coast guard.
The drills focused on Air Defense Exercise (ADEX), which tracks and identifies approaching aircraft and integrates various defense systems.
ADEX is essential in protecting vital assets, maintaining readiness and fostering coordination among naval forces.
Helicopters from the participating forces also executed cross-deck landings to improve and maintain proficiency in landing on different types of carriers.
In a related development, the Philippines and the Netherlands agreed on a broad-ranging defense cooperation to strengthen the country’s capability to protect its interests in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. discussed with the Netherlands Ambassador Marielle Geraedts propositions of greenfield opportunities in various industries, particularly in defense and security, with the Netherlands and the European Union.
Geraedts reiterated the proposal to establish a naval defense industry cooperation with the Philippines.
Teodoro agreed and further proposed to develop broader defense cooperation to include cyber and artificial intelligence.
He also discussed the recalibration of the Philippines’ defense strategy from internal concerns to protecting its borders.