TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the U.S. Seventh Naval Fleet in the Pacific, arrived in Manila for a port visit on Wednesday, March 13.
The visit to Manila is intended to foster closer communication and cooperation between U.S. forces in the region and the military and government of the Philippines.
A press release from the U.S. Embassy quoted the commander of the Blue Ridge and the seventh fleet, Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, who said the following on the visit.
“Our nations are longstanding allies and our navies have worked together for generations. Our visit to Manila strengthens the bonds between our navies and our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
During the visit, officials from the Philippines navy and government will meet with U.S. Navy personnel for staff talks on board the USS Blue Ridge. The talks are reportedly aimed at expanding “interoperability” between the navies of both countries, says the Inquirer.
U.S. sailors will also visit a Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City to meet with veteran Filipino servicemen.
The USS Blue Ridge was commissioned in 1970 making it the oldest operational ship in the U.S. Navy. According to reports, the USS Blue Ridge last visited Manila for a post visit in 2016.
U.S. naval activity around the South China Sea has been on a steady increase since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, as China’s militarism and expansionism threatens the peace and stability of the region.
The United States has declared that it is committed to maintaining a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and is actively seeking to shore up ties with partner nations in the region, like the Philippines.