US, Philippine Navy conclude Sama Sama 2018

Philippine Navy ships BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) sail in formation with the USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) during the at-sea portion of Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama 2018. Photo: US Navy

The US and Philippine navies concluded maritime training activity (MTA) Sama Sama 2018 at the Philippine Navy base Ernesto Ogbinar on July 17.

The week-long engagement involved sailors and marines from the US and Philippine navies operating jointly in the air, on the ground, and on and under the sea. Sama Sama 2018 was the second iteration of the MTA series.

US and Philippine ships and aircraft conducted nearly a dozen training evolutions in the South China Sea.

Division tactics (DIVTACs) with expeditionary fast transport ship, USNS Millinocket, Philippine Navy frigate, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and Tarlac focused on enhancing mutual capabilities to operate in close proximity to one another during a variety of cooperative maneuvers.

“This past week challenged sailors and marines from both our armed forces to work together in a wide range of maritime operations that took place across Northern Luzon – in the South China Sea and in the vicinity of San Fernando City while also ranging out to conduct activities at Clark Air Base, Zambales and Manila,” said Rear. Adm. Joey Tynch, Commander, Task Force 73. “As a unified force, we demonstrated our ability to respond to any crises together as a capable and ready team. The tremendous work by both navies during this year’s engagement truly reflected the spirit and energy of MTA Sama Sama – meaning together, jointly – and that’s the teamwork approach we must pursue for effective maritime security.”

Marine forces conducted joint live-fire training and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) evolutions at Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui. A P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft supported a photo exercise (PHOTOEX) and orientation flights with Philippine Navy sailors.

“While weather proved to be a challenge this year, what we were able to accomplish throughout MTA Sama Sama 2018 confirmed the commitment and cooperative spirit between our two militaries that has been cultivated over decades of working side-by-side,” said Capt. Lex Walker, Commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. “We were able to safely operate together from a position of trust, which allowed us to advance cooperative knowledge and skills in the maritime domain.”

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