MANILA, Philippines - One of the three battle groups assembled by the United States in the Asia-Pacific region arrived yesterday in Subic for this year’s launching of the joint amphibious landing exercises in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Helicopter carrier USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) of the US Marine Corps’ air-ground task force, escorted by two frigates, dropped anchor at the former US naval facility at Subic Bay in Zambales with 2,200 US Marines on board.
The US Marines are slated to link up with their local counterparts for the joint mock amphibious landing operations as well as land-based exercises in Palawan and Zambales.
The provinces have territorial jurisdiction over the disputed Panatag Shoal and the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratlys.
Dubbed as Phiblex 2013, the yearly Filipino-US Marines joint drill will be simultaneously launched on Monday in Zambales.
In a statement, the US embassy said the Bonhomme Richard is in the country for a goodwill visit.
“The goodwill visit highlights the strong historic, community and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines,” the US embassy said.
The US Marine Corps air-ground task force is a powerful air, land and sea armada assembled by the US and has started operating in the Asia-Pacific region.
Aside from the 2,200 Marines, the US carrier is also carrying amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, helicopters and Harrier fighter jets.
The two others are the USS George Washington and the USS John S. Stennis carrier groups.