MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The Philippines and the US formally opened a nine-day joint naval exercise in the southern Philippine city of General Santos today, according to army official.
Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia and US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Tomas led the formal opening of the annual training exercise more known as Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).
Philippine and US Navy and Coast Guard personnel will participate in CARAT.
Armed Forces Spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said the exercise will test the personnel and the naval assets' operational readiness of both countries and improve Philippine naval defense.
The US Navy is employing USS Vandergrift and USNS Safeguard, a P3C Orion surveillance plane and a SH-60B helicopter and 350 men for the exercise. The US Coast Guard has brought in USCG Waesche and 150 personnel.
The Philippine Navy has reserved BRPs Magat Salamat, Miguel Malvar, Salvador Abcede and Teotimo Figuracion and 400 men while the Philippine Coast Guard is employing BRP Pampanga, a BO-105CB helicopter, and 150 men.
The training activities under CARAT includes cross training exercises, diving and salvage exercises, air operations exercises, at-sea fleet training exercises, search and rescue exercises.
The exercise will also pave the way for the conduct of civil military operations in Glan, Sarangani which was hit by flashfloods last May; and in General Santos City.