USS Ronald Reagan arrives in Manila
Onboard USS Ronald Reagan -- The first United States Navy aircraft carrier to visit the country this year arrived in Manila on Wednesday.
The Nimitz class USS Ronald Reagan with the Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike group arrived in Manila Bay.
In a press conference onboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Rear Admiral Karl Thomas, Task Force 70 commander did not say until when the strike group will stay in the country but he added that their mission is to further strengthen the alliance between the US and the Philippines.
"The number of days that we'll be staying I can't give you the exactly. We'll be here for a few days but the mission is clearly to come in and be able to spend some time and for our sailors to get an opportunity to see the vibrant culture of the Philippines, get a little bit of downtime. Obviously, we spend a lot of time at sea," he said.
"My father was born in the Philippines and got the chance to serve in the US Navy so I have also a family here in the Philippines. I have fond memories. But it's really about building the partnerships, strengthening the alliances, seeing our friends and see a lot of our friends, experience the culture," Thomas added.
"It is about giving our sailors a great opportunity to come and visit a wonderful nation. Certainly, the Philippines has been one of our strongest partners and allies. We work closely together. We learn a lot from them. They learn a lot from us. We're coming in here to be able to exchange ideas and work together," he added.
During their stay in Manila, American sailors and their Filipino counterparts are expected to conduct some activities including sports, senior leadership exchanges, community relations and cultural events.
The US Navy will also host ship tours for students and youth.
Thomas said the "port call is a direct reflection of the longstanding relationship between the US and the Philippines and underscores our strong support to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
"Visiting the Philippines is always incredible and I’m glad that the officers and sailors of Carrier Strike Group 5 will have the chance to deepen ties with our critical ally, while enjoying the culture and beauty of this wonderful country," he added.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said the visit is a great representation of the US "strong friendship, partnership, and alliance with the Philippines, as well as a testament to our joint commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region."
According to the US Embassy the "routine port visit is a continuation of the relationship as treaty allies and furthers the friendship, partnership, and alliance between the US and the Philippines."
"For over 65 years, the US and the Philippines have maintained a Mutual Defense Treaty demonstrating our joint commitment to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region," it stated.
"Ronald Reagan, Chancellorsville, and Antietam are forward-deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region," it added. Robina Asido/DMS