22 October 2014

With Pemberton transferred, USS Peleliu cleared to leave PHL

Following the transfer of Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, suspect in the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey Laude, to Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, the US warship he was assigned to has been cleared to leave the Philippines.

The USS Peleliu was the vessel Pemberton was assigned to. He was transferred from the vessel to a detention facility in Camp Aguinaldo Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said Pemberton remains in "US custody with Philippine cooperation."

"Alleged suspect in Camp Aguinaldo remains in U.S. custody with Philippine cooperation," Goldberg said on his Twitter account.

USS Peleliu was one of five American navy ships docked in Subic Bay Freeport that transported US troops and equipment for this year's amphibious landing exercises dubbed PHIBLEX 15.

Last Thursday, The U.S. Pacific Command only allowed four U.S. ships — held as part of a Subic Bay murder investigation — to leave the Philippines.

Pacific Command told Stars and Stripes on Thursday the U.S. Navy amphibious warship USS Germantown (LSD-42) — and three Military Sealift Command Ships — cargo ships, USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE-2) and USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11) as well as the MSC leased high-speed ferry, WestPac Express were no longer required to remain in the Philippines following the alleged Saturday murder of a Philippine national.

“These ships and the personnel on board are no longer a part of the investigation,” Col. Brad Bartelt, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific spokesperson told the paper on Thursday.

“They were not involved with this incident and have other taskings.”

“The Marine Corps and Navy are cooperating fully with the Philippine authorities throughout the investigation, and will continue to ensure that a thorough investigation is completed and due process of law is followed,” Bartelt said.

Guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG-63) and guided missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG-71) were also in the region but were underway as of Thursday, as was Sacagawea.

“These three ships were in port in the Philippines for a brief time, and their crew remained onboard at all times,” U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific deputy public affairs director Chuck Little told Stripes.

The body of Jeffrey Laude, 26, a transgender also known as Jennifer, was found in Olongapo City on Saturday. Authorities have identified Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C. as a suspect in the death.

Pemberton was held onboard Peleliu prior to his transfer to Philippine authorities in Manila.

USS Peleliu (LHA-5) on Sept. 10, 2014. US Navy Photo