Drill with Japan's warships merely to test encounters-at - sea protocols – Philippine Navy

10:52:00 PM
MANILA, -- Philippine Navy chief Vice Adm. Jesus Millan said on Sunday that a naval drill in the West Philippine Sea with two Japan Maritime Self Defense Force destroyers was merely an opportunity for the Navy to test encounters at sea protocols, and had nothing to do with the territorial dispute with China.

Millan said in a phone interview that the Japanese destroyers JS Harusame and JS Amigiri, led by the JMSDF’s Escort Division 2 commander Capt. Masatoshi Kashihara, arrived last Saturday at the Manila South Harbor for a port visit.

Kashihara will pay a courtesy call on Millan on Monday, during which Millan will take the opportunity to thank the Japanese for allowing their Filipino counterparts to see their technologies.

As for Tueasday's drill, the Japanese destroyers, while on their way home, will participate in a passing exercise with the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) and an AW-109 helicopter aboard the Philippine ship over the West Philippine Sea, also known as the South China sea.

The naval exercise was meant to test the Code on Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) which was forged by 21 Pacific nations during the 14th Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) in Qingdao, China in April last year.

“[i]t’s a very welcome opportunity especially for our sailors who don’t have yet the opportunity to see how it is being done while with the other countries,” explained Millan.

As to why the drill was being held in the South China Sea, “Once you go out of Manila, it’s already the West Philippine Sea. That is where you can test it (CUES). While going out, there will be a meeting, while PF-16 is going to her deployment, the other one (Japan's ships) will be going home.”

Millan said China had no reason to be bothered by the drill, given that the exercise was to test the CUES which the Chinese had “promised to also follow and support.”

“This is for safety purposes, just to avoid encounters at sea, unusual incidents. That was actually agreed upon by all chiefs of navies participating in the agreement with the Western Pacific navies,” Millan said of the exercise.

Meanwhile, Philippine Navy public affairs officer Cmdr. Lued Lincuna said the exercise would involve manuever and radio communications, with no guns being fired. “The scenario is we are having an encounter at sea and we’ll be using the CUES,” he said.

Also, the drill will be held within the Philippines’ 24 nautical contiguous areas near Corregidor, far from the Scarborough Shoal which China gained control in 2012 after a standoff with Philippine ships.

Two ships of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Escort Division II (JMSDF ED2), Harusame (DD-102) and JS Amigiri (DD-154) which carries more than 500 officers and sailors on board arrived here today for a goodwill visit until May 12, 2015.


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