Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: No reports of ‘dozens of warships’ headed to West PH Sea


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FACT CHECK: No reports of ‘dozens of warships’ headed to West PH Sea
Reverse image search reveals that the photos were originally taken in June 2017 in the Sea of Japan during routine training exercises by the US and Japan

Claim: Dozens of warships sent by different countries are headed to the West Philippine Sea.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook page “Military Reborn,” which has over 43,000 followers, posted the photos on June 14. As of writing, the post has accumulated 22,000 reactions, 5,400 comments, and 6,900 shares.

The post features two photos purportedly depicting a fleet of ships allegedly en route to the West Philippine Sea.

The same Facebook page has also made similar posts asserting that various countries are dispatching battleships to the West Philippine Sea.

The facts: Contrary to the claim, the ships shown in the post were not recently deployed to the West Philippine Sea; nor were they sent by various countries. A reverse image search shows that the photos are from 2017 and feature ships from the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group fleets operated by the US, alongside ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The images were originally captured on June 1, 2017, in the Sea of Japan during routine training exercises by the US and Japan aimed at improving “interoperability and readiness to provide stability and security for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”

One of the photos in the post was even used in an article published by the US Naval Institute Website entitled, “Navy, Lawmakers Debate How to Best Leverage, Protect Shipbuilding Industry” in 2018. 

No reports: There are no verified reports of a significant number of battleships arriving in the West Philippine Sea on June 14, the date when the Facebook post was published.

According to the US Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, the most recent naval activity involving a US Navy ship in the Philippine Sea during this timeframe was on June 14, when the US Navy’s 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge conducted a maneuvering exercise with the French Navy during the Valiant Shield 2024 military exercises.


Maritime issues: The misleading Facebook post and other similar claims have circulated in recent months as the Philippines held various military exercises with allies like the US, Japan, and Australia and sought to strengthen defense ties with other countries amid ongoing maritime tensions with China. 

China continues to bolster its presence in the South China Sea, rejecting a 2016 arbitral ruling striking down its sweeping claims over the disputed waterway. (READ: [EXPLAINER] South China Sea: Why are China and Philippines tensions heating up?)

Rappler has previously debunked false claims related to the South China Sea issue:

Jerry Yubal Jr./Rappler.com 

Jerry Yubal Jr. is a graduate of Aries Rufo Journalism fellow of Rappler for 2023-2024. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to the #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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