MANILA - The Philippine Navy announced Thursday it would participate in the first ever joint maritime exercises involving the United States and Southeast Asian nations.
In a statement, the Navy said it sent BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a Del Pilar-class patrol ship, to join the inaugural ASEAN-United States Maritime Exercise (AUMX) to be held in Sattahip, Thailand from Sept. 2 to 6.
Along with the ship, around 200 sailors and marines coming from different units of the Navy were sent off to the AUMX, headed by Capt. Hilarion Cesista.
AUMX 2019 is co-hosted by the Royal Thai Navy and the US Navy.
The Philippine Navy said the maritime exercise "aims to promote maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded commerce in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law."
The United States earlier announced it would hold the historic maritime exercises in efforts to prevent "wrongdoing" as Washington and Beijing jostle for influence in the region.
The purpose of the five-day maritime drill is to "maintain maritime security, focus on prevention and preempt wrongdoing in the sea," said a US embassy statement.
Washington, the traditional dominant naval power in Southeast Asia, is engaging once again in the area as a deteriorating trade war with China threatens to engulf the global economy.
China's expansive claims to the South China Sea have brought up tensions with rival claimants, like the Philippines, as the resource-rich waters contain some of the world's most vital commercial shipping lanes.
Other claimants include Southeast Asian nations Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. Taiwan also has partial claims to the waters.
- With a report from Agence France Presse