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‘Samasama’ drills end with stronger resolve to fight maritime threats

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Indo-Pacific region is in good hands after 12 days of offshore and sea training in the annual navy-to-navy “Exercise Samasama 2023” strengthened the maritime alliance of the Philippines and the United States.

Southern Luzon Command chief, Lt. Gen. Efren Baluyot, said the exercises enhanced maritime security, stability, and conflict interventions in the region.

“With our shared expertise and prospects, our collaborative efforts boost our capability to efficiently address the constantly evolving threats in the Indo-Pacific region and assure security and stability are within our grasp,” Baluyot said in his speech during Friday’s closing ceremony at Naval Forces Southern Luzon in Rawis, Legazpi City.

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and the United Kingdom’s (UK) Royal Navy, as well as observers from the Royal New Zealand Navy and Indonesian Navy, also joined the exercises.

Participating assets included the US Navy’s dry cargo ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8), Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105), a maritime surveillance aircraft P-8 Poseidon, the Philippine Navy’s BRP Antonio Luna (FF 151), Japan’s JS Akebono (DD 108), UK’s HMS Spey (P234), and Canada’s HMCS Vancouver (FFG -331).

There were training sessions in medicine, legal concepts, engineering, logistics and public affairs, diving, explosive disposal, surveillance, anti-submarine, surface and air warfare, and maritime domain awareness.

The capability gaps of the maritime forces were likewise exposed and will push the Philippine Navy to strive for more.

ALLIANCES. Southern Luzon Command chief, Lt. Gen. Efren Baluyot, delivers a speech during the closing ceremony of “Exercise Samasama 2023” at Naval Forces Southern Luzon in Rawis Legazpi City, Albay on Friday (Oct. 13, 2023). Baluyot said the exercises enhanced maritime security, stability, and conflict interventions in the Indo-Pacific region. (PNA photo by Connie Calipay)

“Our gaps should be pursued comprehensively based on our naval capability development record, the operational environment, and the emerging regional and global security challenges. Our respective defense forces and our AFP (Armed Forces in the Philippines), in particular, will be more responsive, capable and reliable in protecting our people and our allies,” he said.

Baluyot said overall, “Samasama” achieved its goal of enriching the professional and harmonious relationship of all participating naval forces.

“Above and beyond the knowledge, skills, and experiences gained from this exercise, stronger ties and new friendships were created that made this activity more meaningful and memorable,” he added.

Baluyot said future endeavors and common objectives would be easier because of the enhanced interoperability, collaboration, and alliances.

“The success of our goal to establish peace and order in our maritime lies in this dynamic partnership and linkages with other naval forces,” he added.

Aside from maritime exercises, a concert and sports day were held, enabling participating soldiers to interact more.

“With so many shared values, a security partnership of 77 years, and a history of military collaboration, our alliance with the Philippines enables us to build truly robust training evolutions like this one,” Capt. Sean Lewis of the US Destroyer Squadron 7 said in a previous statement.

“Together we can address a spectrum of security threats and enhance interoperability and with more nations participating than ever before, we can increase innovation and build a ready, united force that ensures stability in the region.”

On the sidelines of the exercises, UK Defense Minister of State Annabel Goldie visited the Philippine Navy headquarters in Manila on Thursday and discussed the intent to further strengthen defense and maritime cooperation, the challenges to the rules-based international order, and the follow-up to the inaugural Philippine-UK Maritime Dialogue held in February. (PNA)


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