06 February 2016

USS Curtis back in Subic after West PH Sea patrol

A guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), is back in the country just one week after it conducted patrol in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) wherein it sailed near one of the islands claimed by Beijing.

The Arleigh Burke class USS Wilbur docked in Subic around 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Her visit to the former American naval base comes two days after the U.S. said it is open to joint patrols with the Philippines in South China Sea as part of efforts to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

Last January 24, USS Wilbur dropped anchor in Manila as part of a routine visit for maintenance and crew rest. While in Manila some members of the ship’s crew had the opportunity to meet with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) as a means of continuing to build the relationship between Philippine and U.S. forces.

Days later, it was reported that the American destroyer conducted freedom of navigation operations (FONOP) within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracel Islands.

A Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis, said the operation aimed to challenge efforts to restrict freedom of navigation.

“This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants — China, Taiwan and Vietnam — to restrict navigation rights and freedoms,” according to Davis.

Reports also quoted Davis as saying that no ships from China’s military were in the vicinity of the warship during its recent patrol, which drew strong Criticism from Beijing.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, in a statement, called the US action as “intentionally provocative and “irresponsible and extremely dangerous.”

“The American warship has violated relevant Chinese laws by entering Chinese territorial waters without prior permission and the Chinese side has taken relevant measures including monitoring and admonishments,” he said. (Elena L. Aben, Manila Bulletin)

USS CURTIS WILBUR IN SUBIC — Dock officers and maintenance crew point to a part of the USS Curtis Wilbur that needs to be fixed while they stand beside the ship’s Mark 45 gun yesterday at the Alava Wharf. The American Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer made a sail by near the disputed shoals on Saturday, drawing criticisms from the Chinese government. The ship is docked at the Subic Bay Freeport for routine maintenance. (MB Photo by Jonas Reyes)