MANILA— The United States Coast Guard has vowed to continue working with allies, including the Philippines, in maintaining regional stability and security in the Indo-Pacific amid mounting tensions.
Speaking to reporters via teleconference, US Coast Guard Vice Admiral Michael McAllister spoke of the importance of promoting rules-based order in order to address the impact of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the region.
McAllister is also the commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area and Commander of the Coast Guard Defense Force West.
The US Coast Guard, McAllister said, supports the free-flow of commerce in the Indo-Pacific.
On Tuesday, the US Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) arrived in Subic Bay for operations and exercises with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
McAllister said the two countries conducted joint patrols and exercises in their ability to enforce exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
The West Philippine Sea is the Philippines' EEZ within the South China Sea, which China claims in near entirety. The US has many times called out Chinese provocations and incursions in the area.
"We build and leverage partnerships to enhance the capability and capacity of partners to carry out mission for the common good, like search and rescue, marine and environmental protection, enforcing fisheries law and treaties, addressing human smuggling, counter drug, counter terror, and disaster response and others,” he explained.
Munro’s crew also participated in bilateral operations, professional exchanges, search-and-rescue and communications exercises, small boat operations, multi-vessel maneuvering, and maritime domain awareness drills while at sea.
The US Coast Guard said the deployment would strengthen coast guard to coast guard relationships and demonstrates the Coast Guard’s “enduring commitment to the Indo-Pacific.”
In late July, US Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz stressed the importance of freely navigating oceans, as well as the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes, as tensions in the South China Sea continued.
China's vast claims to the resource-rich waterways- among the busiest sea lanes in the world- have been a source of growing tension between Beijing, neighboring governments and Washington for years.
Five years ago, an international tribunal ruled that Beijing's sweeping claims to almost the entire South China Sea had no legal basis. China has ignored this ruling.
— with a report from South China Morning Post