Published: Sat, May 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Philippines, US, Japan, India navies sail together in South China Sea

Philippines, US, Japan, India navies sail together in South China Sea

"It showcased India's commitment to operating with like-minded nations to ensure safe maritime environment through enhanced inter-operability", said Indian Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma.

Six ships from the four countries - the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence, Philippine patrol ship BRP Andres Bonifacio, Indian destroyer INS Kolkata and tanker INS Shakti, and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) helicopter-carrier JS Izumo and destroyer JS Murasame - transited through worldwide waters May 2 to 8 in a bid to promote maritime cooperation throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Navy spokesman Capt. Jonathan Zata said the decision to conduct maritime exercises occurred during discussions among commanders at the Busan training.

"Professional engagements with our allies, partners and friends in the region allow us the opportunity to build upon existing, strong relationships, as well as to learn from each other", Klug said.

China has created 3,200 new acres of land in the sea's Spratly Islands since 2013, building artificial land masses for military outposts, according to the center.

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The six ships are now passing the West Philippine Sea for a week's travel to Singapore for the second phase of the ASEAN-Plus Defense Ministers' Meeting Maritime Security Field Training Exercise (ADMM-Plus MARSEC FTX) 2019. Ships from the four countries transited global waters to Changi, Singapore where the second phase of the exercise will conclude.

Capt. Roy Vincent Trinidad, who is leading the Philippine Navy delegation, said the sail validated multilateral cooperation among the four nations. Indian Navy ships were on return passage from their deployment to the South and the East China Seas as part of the annual Eastern Fleet overseas deployment during which they visited Vietnam, China and South Korea.

The joint naval drill comes days after the USA guided-missile destroyers Preble and Chung Hoon trespassed in the adjacent territorial waters of Nanxun Jiao and Chigua Jiao, two of China's Nansha Islands, without permission from the Chinese government.

The U.S. Navy says it conducts such freedom of navigation operations in global waters around the world, even in seas claimed by its allies, without political considerations. "The ability to do various exercises among four different navies smoothly demonstrated professionalism and high operational skills".

"Events like this provide opportunities for like-minded navies to train together and promote maritime cooperation throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific", the US 7th Fleet said.

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