Saturday, October 27, 2012

Two US warships spotted in Palawan

Two more warships from the United States were sighted dropping anchor in Palawan on Friday. Lt. Col. Niel Estrella, spokesperson of military’s Western Command (WesCom), confirmed the presence of the naval vessels in Puerto Princesa. Estrella said attack ship USS John McCain and guided missile destroyer USS Mustin arrived in the Philippine island on Monday. “They are here for port calls. Foreign naval ships regularly visit us as part of fellowship and to enhance friendship between allied nations,” Estrella explained. But Philippine and American government officials failed to declare these ships as part of security entourage for the five-day goodwill visit of aircraft carrier USS George Washington. On Wednesday, USS George Washington was escorted by attack ship USS McCampbell and guided missile carrier USS Cowpens as US Strike Carrier group docked in the port of Manila for a friendly visit. Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said the visit include courtesy calls, reception, ship’s tour, community services projects, and goodwill games between Filipino and US counterparts. USS John McCain, USS Mustin, USS McCampbell and USS Cowpens are all part of US Seventh Fleet that is based in Yokosuka, Japan as a strike group for its flagship, USS George Washington. The docking of the US warships in Palawan, which has territorial jurisdiction over disputed Spratly’s Group of Islands, came at the same time Chinese Navy were also spotted in West Philippine Sea. On Wednesday, United Kingdom (UK)-based The Telegraph reported two Chinese naval fleets conducted joint military exercises in the South China Sea, the international name of West Philippine Sea. Citing Chinese state television CCTV, The Telegraph said it was aimed to test emergency combat capabilities that involved deployment of marine corps helicopters and landing ships or combat tanks. In April, tensions between Manila and Beijing heightened over territorial claims on Scarborough Shoal off Zambales. Chinese officials warned US to stop meddling with claims over various islands located in the West Philippine Sea.