The US Coast Guard (USCG) is assisting the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in improving the country’s marine domain awareness.
USCG Vice Admiral Michael McAllister stated in a teleconference on Friday that Washington DC wants to provide Manila the capacity and competence to “spend more time beyond their littorals.”
The USCG and the PCG recently completed joint drills in the West Philippine Sea, but McAllister noted that this does not necessarily imply that there was an intention to send a message.
“I’m not going to say that activity near the Scarborough Shoals was necessarily intended to send a message; but when you think about the Philippines’ claim for their waters, that opportunity to get them out further from shore, do maritime awareness, and – when appropriate – enforce laws and treaties within their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), it simply requires that we get them further from shore,” he said.
The Bajo de Masinloc, or Scarborough Shoal, was the site of a heated confrontation between China and the Philippines in 2012. The shoal is around 124 nautical miles off Zambales’ coast.
Increasing capacity to identify operations taking place in a country’s sovereign waters, according to McAllister, “with the idea that you would be able to respond to any threats.”
In addition, while at sea, the USCG and PCG conducted a number of search-and-rescue and communication drills, as well as small boat operations and multi-vessel maneuvering.
Following maritime operations in the West Philippine Sea, the USCG Cutter Munro arrived in Subic Bay, Zambales, on Tuesday. In July, it sailed from Alameda, California, for a six-month deployment in the Western Pacific.
Munro, a 418-foot national security cutter, is part of the US 7th Fleet’s tactical control and participates in capacity-building exercises with partner nations.