US 7th Fleet’s flagship now in Manila

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
US 7th Fleet�s flagship now in Manila
Senate Majority Leader Francis Tolentino delivers a speech on board the USS Blue Ridge to welcome the US warship docked at the Port of Manila yesterday. Looking on are 7th Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Fred Kacher and US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson.

MANILA, Philippines — The command ship of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet based in Japan is in Manila for a port visit.

The USS Blue Ridge arrived on Wednesday, according to US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, who also revealed on X that she had a “great discussion” aboard the ship with 7th Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Fred Kacher “on ways to advance the United States and the Philippines’ shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has yet to officially release more information about the US warship’s port call.

Also on Wednesday, Kacher paid a courtesy visit to AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Arthur Cordura during which they discussed “the current security environment and reaffirmed their commitment to upholding rules-based international law to promote a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”

The AFP said they also discussed their progressive engagements in multilateral partnerships that aim to advance collective maritime domain security.

Cordura, during the meeting, expressed appreciation for the continued support and assistance of the US in enhancing the AFP’s capabilities.

He also emphasized the importance of the Balikatan Exercise as an opportunity to advance interoperability and response capabilities.

“Part of AFP’s initiatives is to make our systems synchronized, to incorporate the narrative of the defense concept that is more focused on addressing contingency and probable challenges anchored on our shared values,” Cordura said.

Passing through

Meanwhile, the AFP confirmed yesterday the sighting of four Chinese warships in the waters off Balabac, Palawan on Thursday but assured the public there should be no cause for alarm as the vessels were just passing through.

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad, said the four People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships were monitored transiting within 12 nautical miles of Palawan on June 19.

“At 1:49 p.m., two of these vessels were identified as the PLAN destroyer Luyang III (DDG-168) and the frigate Jiangkai II (FFG-570), moving at a speed of 13 knots, both heading southwest,” he said.

“The other two vessels, the destroyer Renhai (CG-105) and the replenishment oiler Fuchi (AOR-907), were monitored at 3:56 p.m. moving at a speed of 15 knots, both also heading southwest,” he added.

Trinidad noted the Chinese ships responded accordingly to radio challenges. “Said area is commonly used by international vessels passing through our waters,” he said, allaying fears of intrusion or the illegal presence of Chinese warships in Philippine waters.

“Our capability to monitor and respond to such activities is a testament to our commitment to maritime domain awareness and the protection of our territory, sovereignty and sovereign rights. Rest assured, the AFP remains vigilant in safeguarding our maritime interests,” Trinidad stressed.

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