09 March 2016

US submarine, warship in PHL for visit

A United States submarine and a guided-missile cruiser have arrived in the Philippines amid tensions caused by Chinese activities in Philippine-claimed territories in the South China Sea.

USS Charlotte, the submarine, moored at Subic Bay on Wednesday morning while the guided-missile destroyer, USS Antietam, docked in Manila on Tuesday.

A US military statement said USS Antietam is on "patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific."

During the cruiser's stay in the Philippines, its crew will "participate in community relations events and tours and [will] have time to enjoy the city," the statement said.

The USS Charlotte, on the other hand, is currently on a "six-month deployment to the US 7th Fleet area of operations," according to an earlier US news release.

"Charlotte will conduct important missions to strengthen theater security with strong partners throughout the region," it said.

The visit of the USS Charlotte and USS Antietam came days after the arrival of the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US 7th Fleet that docked at the former US naval base in Subic on March 4 for a similar port visit.

China’s actions in the resource-rich South China Sea have worried its smaller neighbors, like the Philippines, due to its massive claim that encroaches on their sovereign territories. Beijing said its claims over the waters are “indisputable” and anchored on history that is backed by ancient maps and documents.

The Philippines challenged this claim before a United Nations-linked arbitral tribunal where a resolution is pending.

Although not a party to the disputes, the US has declared that it is in its national interest to ensure freedom of access to the region’s sea lanes and air zones and that disputes are resolved peacefully. It has recently sent a four-ship strike group to patrol the South China Sea. (GMA News)

Los Angeles class submarine USS Charlotte (SSN-766) enters Subic Bay waters Wednesday morning as part of its six-month deployment to the US 7th Fleet area of operations (Photo by Jun Dumaguing, MPD-SBMA)