Ships of the US and Japanese coast guards sailed into Manila on Thursday for joint exercises with their Filipino counterparts on maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and environmental protection.

The Philippine Coast Guard said in a statement that Akitsushima (PLH-32) and USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) arrived at the Port of Manila on Thursday morning for the week-long Kaagapay Trilateral Exercise, which will be held in waters off Bataan. The ships were welcomed to Manila by coast guard personnel waving flags of the US and of Japan.

The PCG will be deploying BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702), BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), BRP Boracay (FPB-2401), and one 44-meter multi-role response vessel (MRRV) to the exercises, which are meant to train the three coast guards to work together in operations.

"Two of the participating vessels from the PCG, the BRP Melchora Aquino and the 44-meter MRRV, were acquired through the [Japan International Cooperation Industry-Department of Transportation Maritime Safety Improvement Project," the Japanese Embassy said in a separate statement. The PCG is a uniformed service under the transportation department.

Although the PCG has trained with the coast guards of the US and Japan, the exercises from June 1 to June 7 are the first where the three will be holding drills together.

They come amid tension in the region over the South China Sea and as the US and Japan announce moves to "modernize" their current military alliance.


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