This is the Peleliu's first port visit to the Philippines in nearly four years when it visited during its 2010 deployment.
"For many of the Sailors and Marines on Peleliu, this is their first visit to the Philippines, and they are extremely excited about being able to experience the hospitality the Filipino people provide every time the Navy and Marine Corps visits," said Capt. Paul Spedero, commanding officer of the Peleliu. "On the other hand, we also have service members who are from the Philippines, or have family members living in the Philippines, and our visit serves as a homecoming for those individuals."
Peleliu, the flagship of the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group (PELESG), along Germantown and embarked 31st MEU, is participating in PHIBLEX 15 from Sept. 29 to Oct. 10 throughout the islands of Palawan and Luzon.
"As this is Peleliu's final deployment before decommissioning, we are honored to participate in the 31st iteration of PHIBLEX," said Spedero. "Our forces are exceedingly proficient at conducting combined joint amphibious operations between U.S. maritime services and our partners, especially the Philippines."
PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by U.S. Navy and Marine forces with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This exercise continues to strengthen the interoperability and working relationships between the two nations through a range of operations including disaster relief and complex expeditionary operations.
"The Marines of the 31st MEU have been looking forward to working with our Philippine counterparts for some time," said Col. Romin Dasmalchi, commanding officer of the 31st MEU. "The Marine Corps has had a long-standing relationship with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and it's always an honor to train with them."
Approximately 3,500 U.S. Sailors and Marines will train side-by-side with 1,200 Philippine sailors and marines to conduct field training exercises, which include small arms and artillery live-fire training. In addition, the combined forces will conduct humanitarian and civic assistance projects.
"Exercises like PHIBLEX prepare us to work together for real world contingencies like disaster relief operations," said Dasmalchi. "When the 31st MEU responded here for Operation Damayan, the relationships that had been established through exercises like this were critical to ensuring an efficient response to our partner and ally."
Peleliu is the lead ship in the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group, commanded by Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, and is conducting combined exercises in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
USS Peleliu (LHA 5), as seen from USS Germantown (LSD 42), sits moored in Subic Bay Sept. 30.