PH, US start Mindanao maneuvers

MANILA — The Philippines and the United States will start on Monday a nine-day joint naval exercises in the Mindanao Sea, off the coasts of General Santos City and nearby Sarangani province.

Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao commander Commodore Philip Cacayan said the Americans have deployed two Navy ships, the USS Vandergrift and USNS Safeguard, and a Coast Guard vessel, the USCG Waesche, for the maneuvers, dubbed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2012.

Around 350 US Navy personnel and 150 US Coast Guard personnel will participate in the activity.

“This year, they the Coast Gurad were included on the request of the US Coast Guard which would also like to be interoperable with the Philippine Coast Guard and not with Philippine Navy only,” Cacayan said.

The Vandergrift is a 4100-ton frigate while the Safeguard is a US Navy Military Sealift Command salvage and rescue ship. The Waesche is a 4,306-ton US Coast Guard cutter
The Philippine Navy, on the other hand, deployed the corvettes BRPs Magat Salamat and Miguel Malvar, the fast patrol craft Salvador Abcede, and the coastal patrol craft Teotimo Figuracion, and 400 personnel for CARAT.

The Philippine Coast Guard will also send BRP Pampanga and 50 personnel. The Pampanga was the PCG ship that recently patrolled the Panatag shoal.

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