US assault ship docks in Manila for port visit

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2023 03:43 PM

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USS America (LHA 6) drops anchor in Port Area, Manila for a port visit. The visit marks the first time the AMERICA-class amphibious assault ship made a port call in the Philippines. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

USS America (LHA 6) drops anchor in Port Area, Manila for a port visit. The visit marks the first time the AMERICA-class amphibious assault ship made a port call in the Philippines. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

USS America (LHA 6) drops anchor in Port Area, Manila for a port visit. The visit marks the first time the AMERICA-class amphibious assault ship made a port call in the Philippines. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

USS America (LHA 6) drops anchor in Port Area, Manila for a port visit. The visit marks the first time the AMERICA-class amphibious assault ship made a port call in the Philippines. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- A US warship is in Manila for a 5-day port visit in a show of friendship between the United States and the Philippines, an official said on Tuesday. 

The visit marks the first time that the USS America (LHA 6) made a port call to the Philippines. 

The amphibious assault ship had just come from an annual bilateral exercise with the Japan Self-Defense Forces known as the “Iron Fist.”
 
“Our official visit is to have some rest and relaxation for the crew to be able to enjoy Manila and the Philippines, and to show the government and the people of the Philippines that America is their friend and good partner,” said Captain Shockey Snyder, the commanding officer of AMERICA. 
 
“Our port visit here has been scheduled for several months. It is part of our normal spring patrol that the ship does every year. This was scheduled for us to go to,” he said a press conference at the ship’s flight deck on Tuesday..
 
From Japan, AMERICA passed through the Luzon Strait and the South China Sea before arriving at the Manila South Harbor on Sunday.
 
Snyder said the ship had no contact with any vessel from China or any other country during its 4-day transit.
 
“All of our transits through and to Manila were safe and professional,” he said.
 
He also stressed that ships are free to operate anywhere in international waters.
 
“Not just America, but any Navy or US naval ships are free to operate anywhere in international waters and we do that so that the waters can remain free for all countries to use,” Snyder said.
 

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The AMERICA carries 1,204 sailors and an additional 1,871 embarked Marines. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

The AMERICA carries 1,204 sailors and an additional 1,871 embarked Marines. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

The AMERICA carries 1,204 sailors and an additional 1,871 embarked Marines. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

The AMERICA carries 1,204 sailors and an additional 1,871 embarked Marines. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

AMERICA is the lead ship of the United States’ Amphibious Ready Group and operates under the US Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations—its largest forward-deployed numbered fleet.
 
The ship’s primary mission is to support Marine Corps flight operations.
Measuring 844 feet long and 106 feet wide, the warship carries over 3,000 sailors and Marines.
 
Its wide flight deck can accommodate up to 25 aircraft at a time.
 
During the media tour, one MH60 Sierra helicopter was showcased on the flight deck. The aircraft is being kept on board in case of emergency, according to Snyder.
 
“AMERICA is part of the Amphibious Ready Group. We have the Amphibious Squadron 11, as well as the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Our relationship with them: They would embark us and the 31st MEU is the 7th Fleet Crisis Response Unit, so if there are any crises, whether it is combat operations or humanitarian assistance, then we would aggregate with the other ships of the MEU to carry out whatever task is required,” he explained. “The aircraft carriers are larger. The LHA and LHD class are the second biggest.”
 
“I will say that AMERICA is a great ship. We are always full mission-capable and we are capable of carrying out any task we would be given,” he added.
 
Snyder also noted that AMERICA would not take part in the Balikatan 2023, the largest annual bilateral exercise of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and US Armed Forces. 

The warship will depart Manila on Thursday.