PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines -- Maritime forces from Japan, Philippines, and the United States concluded Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama in Puerto Princesa, Oct. 21.
The week-long exercise involved Sailors, Coast Guardsmen and Marines from the U.S. and Philippine navies, as well as Sailors from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
Now in its third year, MTA Sama Sama is designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships and enhance maritime interoperability.
“I could not be more proud of what we accomplished together,” said Capt. Ann McAnn, deputy commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. “The time and resources invested here will pay dividends. While the exercise has ended, the skills, the knowledge and the relationships built here will only grow in value over time.”
This year marked the first time the JMSDF participated alongside U.S. and Philippine navy counterparts during MTA Sama Sama.
The exercise featured both shore-based and at-sea activities designed to allow participating nations to advance complex maritime training utilizing diverse naval platforms and operating areas.
Shore phase events included a series of subject matter expert exchanges on a wide range of naval capabilities, including maritime domain awareness, force protection, medical care, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, explosive ordnance disposal, dive and salvage operations, engineering, aviation and visit-board-search-and-seizure (VBSS) operations.
The at-sea phase included VBSS drills, division tactics, a search and rescue exercise, helicopter deck landing qualifications, anti-air and surface warfare tracking, and vessel of interest tracking.
Participating U.S. Navy assets include the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8), the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3), the Safeguard-class salvage ship USNS Salvor (ARS 52), the Legend-class cutter USCG Stratton (VMSL 752) and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft.
USS Montgomery, an Independence-variant littoral combat ship, is on a rotational deployment to the Indo-Pacific area of operations. The ship visited Davao City in July 2019.
MTA Sama Sama builds upon other maritime engagements with the Philippines including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), which involves more than a dozen partner nations, Balikatan, ADMM-Plus (Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting Maritime Security Exercise), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-U.S. Maritime Exercise (AUMX), along with other military engagements and exchanges. These engagements serve to enhance information sharing and coordination and support long-term regional cooperation.
As U.S. 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific/Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 conduct advanced planning, organize resources, and directly support the execution of CARAT and other engagements in the region.