Philippines, US conduct 2nd joint maritime patrol in West Philippine Sea
This photo shows a sailing U.S. Pacific Fleet. US Navy

Manila,  Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced on Wednesday their second maritime cooperative activity with the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) in the West Philippine Sea.

According to an official statement from the AFP, this joint operation will involve a range of strategic exercises. They will conduct passing exercises, communication checks, cross-deck exercises, joint patrols, Officer of the Watch maneuvers, and fixed-wing flight operations in conjunction with USINDOPACOM.

“The 2nd maritime cooperative activity marks a significant leap in our alliance and interoperability with the United States. It also demonstrates our progress in defense capabilities and development as a world-class armed force, as we carry out our mandate to protect the people and the state,” AFP Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner said in a statement

“Our alliance is stronger than ever, sending a message to the world. We are advancing a rules-based international order and a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of regional challenges,” he added.

The bilateral event will be held from January 3 to 4.

The AFP deployed four Philippine Navy vessels alongside a multi-role helicopter and an anti-submarine helicopter.

Meanwhile, USINDOPACOM contributed navy vessels from Carrier Strike Group One, spearheaded by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. This strike group comprises a cruiser, two destroyers, and combat aircraft.

The first joint patrols between the Philippines and the US took place in November 2023. These patrols featured aerial surveillance missions conducted by assets from both the Philippine and US air forces. This collaboration coincided with heightened tensions with China in the Ayungin Shoal.

Amid Beijing’s repeated aggression in the West Philippine Sea, Washington has consistently reaffirmed its commitment to the 72-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty.

Other countries also eye to hold joint patrols with the Philippines in the highly-contested waters.

Meanwhile, China said that it had organized its military assets to conduct routine patrols in the South China Sea on both January 3rd and 4th.