USS Abraham Lincoln arrives in Manila with proud Fil-Am sailors


MANILA, Philippines — The United States Navy continues to foster its ties with the Philippines and its other allies by conducting military exercises, showing off joint-capabilities with the arrival of USS Abraham Lincoln that’s manned by several Filipino-American sailors.

“Our commitment to allies and partners and friends has never been more important to this region than right now,” Rear Adm Jeffrey T. Anderson said on Thursday.

Select representatives of the media were brought to the aircraft carrier that was in the middle of the West Philippine Sea via a CMV-22 Osprey last week.

Among USS Abraham Lincoln’s 5,000 crew members are Filipinos, some of whom have not been home in years.

“Ang total mission ng barko is makapag-launch ng mga eroplano kung kailangan. Kada isa sa amin may role kami dun sa sa big, overall picture ng condition na makapag-launch siya ng eroplano,” Logistics Specialist Senior Chief Petty Officer Rommel Pasive said.

(The ship’s total mission is to launch aircraft when needed. We each have a role in the big, overall picture of having it conditioned to be able to launch an aircraft.)

Filipino crew members will be given a chance to take a quick break while in the Philippines, with some of the sailors expressing excitement to spend time with their friends and family. 

They said sailors on board are often busy with the tasks assigned to them, but Filipino-American sailors said they find time to bond with one another when sharing meals or by having small get-togethers.

The Fil-Am crew said they were able to create a community that feels like home. Petty Officer 2nd Class Danmichael Canta said: “Kulang lang talaga is ‘yung lutong bahay.” (The only thing missing is homemade food.)

Around 80 aircraft onboard

The ship is the United States’ fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. It can accommodate around 80 aircraft, which can be deployed both day and night and in all types of conditions.

This is not her first time in the Philippines. USS Abraham Lincoln’s first deployment was in the region, executing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief when Mt. Pinatubo exploded in 1991.

Last week, USS Abraham Lincoln Commanding Officer Capt Amy Bauernschmidt said it can do “pretty much anything that [it is] tasked to do by [its] government.”

The crew went through a “rigorous nine-month training cycle” before the ship departed its home port in San Diego earlier this year, January 3. USS Abraham Lincoln has traveled over 24,000 miles and performed 15 replenishments at sea since.

“Since leaving San Diego, we’ve executed about 5,192 hours of flight operations, watching and recovering aircraft both day and night everywhere from San Diego over to the South China Sea,” Bauernschmidt said.

The crew also went through carrier interoperability exercises as well as double fusion and jungle warfare while at the West Philippine Sea.

“We are here to help build interoperability, capacity, and capability throughout the region with both our allies as well as our partners in order to provide reassurance as well as to deter our adversaries and should deterrence fail, we’re here to fight and win,” Anderson said.

Filipinos on board said they are trying to do their best to fulfill their mission, hoping to best represent the country even while they are away from home.

“Ang mindset ko ay kung ano po ang misyon ang pinapagawa po nila sa amin, nandito po kami para gawin iyon. So as a parang representative ng mga Pilipino, gagawin po namin ang aming makakaya para ma-fulfill ang aming mission,” Romero said.

(I put on the mindset that whatever the mission they are asking us to do, we are here to do it. So as a somewhat representative of the Filipino people, we will do our best to fulfill our mission.)

Meanwhile, the Philippines and the United States are set to begin the largest joint military drills in the country this week. War games are expected to last 12 days near the Luzon islands.

Exercises include maritime security, live-fire training, counterterrorism, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. 

“This year’s way more robust, it’s somewhere on the order of over 5,000 US service members and somewhere on the order of over 3,500 Philippine service members, so a lot more robust exercises than it has been in the past,” Anderson said.

“I think it underscores those strong military-to-military ties that we possess between the United States joint force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he added.

Anderson said they did not need to shift the ship’s operations or exercises due to the pandemic. Its strike group is 100% vaccinated, while a vast majority of their service members have received their booster shots.



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 22, 2022 - 2:27pm

A thread of notable updates on the Philippines' bilateral relations with the United States. — Main image from FPRI

July 22, 2022 - 2:27pm

MaryKay Carlson, the United States’ new envoy to the Philippines, says she looks forward to working with the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 

“I am thrilled to be in the Philippines and honored to represent the United States in this important relationship,” Carlson says Friday in a statement.

Carlson was appointed by US President Joe Biden to replace Sung Kim who ended his tour of duty in 2020. 

June 6, 2022 - 9:35am

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to the Philippines as part of her trip to the region from June 5 to 14.

Sherman will meet with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to discuss ways to deepen bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States, the US state department says.

May 23, 2022 - 9:05am

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opens a new country office in manila as part of its commitment to strengthen and expand its cooperation with the Department of Health.

Dr. Romel Lacson will serve as CDC’s first Country Director for the Philippines.

“In this new era, partnership is more essential than ever.  We must be willing to take on challenges together and create opportunities together.  This is why the launch of this office and our work together is so important,” Lacson says.

May 16, 2022 - 3:10pm

The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency has concluded its training with the Bureau of Fire Protection on May 13, the US Embassy says Monday.

The two-week training course, which involved more than 100 participants from the Philippines, focused on countering weapons of mass destruction.

"The CWMD Operations course enabled the students to analyze an incident, plan the initial response, and implement defensive actions to include: the selection and use of personal protective equipment, air monitoring and sampling, technical and mass decontamination, victim rescue and recovery, defensive product control, evidence preservation, and illicit laboratory and improvised device awareness," the US Embassy says in a press release.

May 12, 2022 - 11:15am

US President Joe Biden has spoken to presumptive president Bongbong Marcos to congratulate him.

"President Biden underscored that he looks forward to working with the President-elect to continue strengthening the U.S.-Philippine Alliance, while expanding bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues, including the fight against COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, promoting broad-based economic growth, and respect for human rights," the White House says.

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