(UPDATED) Defense chief Gazmin: That is clearly an intrusion, a violation. They already entered our territory.
MANILA, Philippines – Carrying over 1,900 crew members and soldiers, 3 United States Navy warships will dock in the Philippines on Friday, March 22, amid a US strategy to shift most of its naval fleet to the Pacific.
In a statement, the US Embassy said the 3 ships will undergo “routine maintenance, replenishment of supplies, rest and recreation, and community assistance and outreach activities.”
The destroyer USS Decatur will dock in Manila, the submarine Ohio in Subic, and the submarine tender USS Frank Cable in Cebu.
Measuring 505 feet, USS Decatur (DDG 73) got its name from Commodore Stephen Decatur, a US naval hero during 1812's US-Britain War. The ship arriving in Manila carries over 300 crew and soldiers, including Filipinos.
The Filipinos on the Decatur include Roselle Taday from San Pedro, Laguna; Rocel Castañeda from Pasig City; Jesper Sison from Quezon City; Micael Padua from San Juan, La Union; and Jacob Lirio, from Tagudin, Ilocos Sur.
The ship that will dock in Subic – the 560-foot long USS Ohio (SSGN 726) – carries with it about 150 officers and sailors. The lead ship of US Ohio-class submarines, it is the 4th US vessel to bear the name “Ohio.”
With a crew of about 1,500, USS Frank Cable (AS 40) meanwhile serves as the 7th Fleet's mobile repair and support platform. USS Frank Cable, which arrives in Cebu on Friday, also visited Subic in 2012.
'Pivot' to Asia
The US Embassy said the 3 ships' visit will “highlight the strong historic, community and military relations" between the US and Philippines.”
The US is implementing a strategic "pivot" to Asia while the Philippines and China fight over South China Sea territories. The US plans to shift most of its naval fleet to the Pacific by 2020.
China has repeatedly shown agitation over US involvement in South China Sea disputes.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has said it will elevate the South China Sea dispute to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. China, however, has rejected this move. (Read: The impossible dream and the West Philippine Sea.) – with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com