CEBU, Philippines -- Military personnel from the Philippines, United States, Australia, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom kicked off exercise Sama Sama-Lumbas in Cebu, Philippines, Oct. 11, 2022.
Sama Sama is an annual bilateral navy-to-navy exercise between the Philippine Navy (PN) and the U.S. Navy (USN), while Lumbas is a yearly bilateral navy-to-navy exercise between PN and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). This is the first time that the bilateral exercises will be conducted simultaneously.
“In the two years since we last had an in-person Sama Sama opening ceremony, a great deal has changed in the world,” said Vice Adm. Karl Thomas, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “What has not changed is the interests our navies and nations share in a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The interoperability exercises with the PN, USN and RAN will focus on warfighting capabilities, while the French Navy (FN), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and Royal Navy (RN) will participate primarily in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training.
“Exercises like this allow us to work together multilaterally, not only to enforce our commitments to our partner nations, but also to expand our regional relationships,” said PN Rear Adm. Caesar Bernard Valencia, acting flag officer in command.
The shore phase will include a series of activities comprised of subject matter expert exchanges on maritime domain awareness and intelligence, maritime aviation, band, surface warfare missile engagement, replenishment-at-sea, medical, explosive ordnance disposal, visit, board, search and seizure, legal, and underwater construction operation of participating navies.
“The combining of the exercises provides an opportunity to further broaden our shared cooperation with a range of friends and on a larger scale than ever before,” RAN Commodore Ray Leggatt, chief of staff, Navy Headquarters.
At-sea events will take place in the Sulu Sea, Oct. 14-18. They will include division tactics, deck landing qualifications, replenishment-at-sea and approach, search and rescue, and more.
“This year’s joint exercise shall undoubtedly reinforce the longstanding alliances and friendships among our respective nations while opening avenues to complement our joint regional security efforts,” said Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, chief of staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines.
U.S. assets and representatives participating in Sama Sama-Lumbas include the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), a P-8 Poseidon, staff from Commander Task Force (CTF) 72, CTF 73, CTF 75, CTF 76, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, and U.S. 7th Fleet.
“The emphasis on multilateralism in this exercise shows agreement between our leadership that the only way to truly uphold the rules based international order is together,” said Thomas.
Sama Sama-Lumbas is a multilateral exercise and includes forces from Philippines, the United States, Australia, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance maritime interoperability.
Milius is assigned to CTF 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force
As the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed destroyer squadron in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, functions as Expeditionary Strike Group 7’s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements.
Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.