The Philippines will for the first time participate in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (Rimpac), the world’s biggest international maritime war games, to be held off Hawaii in June.
The maneuvers will be led by the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet. The biennial exercises will train thousands of personnel from more than two dozen countries on seamanship.
The Philippine Navy will deploy one landing dock ship, one frigate and an Agusta Westland helicopter for the Rimpac, Capt. Lued Lincuna, Navy spokesman, said.
“In the past years, we were active and regularly sending participants as observers for the Rimpac, but this time, it will be the first time we will be sending our ships, the Tarlac class and Del Pilar class and an aircraft [with]around 700 sailors and marines,” Lincuna told reporters.
“We have now the capability to send ships and aircraft to participate in one of the biggest naval exercises in the world,” he added.
Earlier, Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said the Philippines will deploy 700 sailors and marines for Rimpac. They will sail for Hawaii on the first week of June.
Rimpac is held every two years in Hawaii in June and July.
This year, around 30 navies across the world are expected to participate. The naval exercises seek to enhance the interoperability among the armed forces of the Pacific Rim.
Last week, the Pentagon pulled its invitation for China to join the maritime exercises in the Pacific because of Beijing’s “continued militarization” of the South China Sea.
“China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Logan said.
“We have disinvited the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise. China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise,” he added.
He said the Pentagon has strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems and electronic jammers to “contested features” in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea.
“While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other non-military functions, the placement of these weapon systems is only for military use,” Logan said, adding that the recent landing of a Chinese bomber on Woody Island had only exacerbated strains.
China participated in the naval exercises in 2014 and in 2016.
WITH AFP / BY DEMPSEY REYES ON
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