Interoperability exercises were conducted recently in the Spratlys by the Philippine Navy unit tasked with patrolling the West Philippine Sea and its Vietnamese counterpart.
Naval Forces West (Navforwest) hosted the Vietnamese, reciprocating the reception given to the Navy contingent by the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) in June last year on the Vietnam-occupied Southwest Cay in the South China Sea.
Commodore Rommel Jason Galang, commander of Navforwest, said the interoperability exercises last Nov. 10 was the Navy’s response to “the warm hospitality accorded by the VPN to the Philippine contingent during last year’s undertaking.”
The Philippines and Vietnam occupy several islets and reefs in the South China Sea, about 90 percent of which is claimed by China.
Navforwest fleet and Marine personnel engaged the 63-man VPN contingent, headed by Senior Capt. Nhuyen Viet Thuan, Naval Region 4 deputy commander, in several activities on Parola Island, which is the third largest Philippine-occupied island in the disputed Spratlys.
Galang said apart from communications and tabletop exercises, goodwill games and cultural performances were held during the one-day confidence-building activity, which is the fourth iteration of the two navies’ interaction in the Spratlys.
The first of the exchanges was held on Southwest Cay in June 2014, with the Philippines hosting the second in May 2015 on the Philippine-controlled Northeast Cay.#