No hitch in US, Philippine coast guards drill even as Chinese vessel watched
The capability training exercise between the United States and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) was conducted despite Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) observing their activity in West Philippine Sea last Tuesday.
“I think that they (CCG) want to see how the Philippine Coast Guard and US Coast Guard do things professionally together. We really did a good job yesterday and I think they can learn a lot from what we are doing,”said Capt. John Driscoll, USCG National Security Cutter Bertholf’s commanding officer in an interview after their vessel arrived in Manila Wednesday.
“I think yesterday the exercise that we conducted was done as planned between the Philippine Coast Guard and the US Coast Guard. The China Coast Guard was there observing everything was normal. We were able to execute the exercise normally within any interference. We really enjoy that,” he added.
Driscoll said their ships did not receive any communication from the Chinese Coast Guard during the USCG and PCG exercise.
“They were within visual sight,” he said, referring to the Chinese ships.
Driscoll said the exercise was held around 50 miles away from Scarborough Shoal.
“I think the exercise it’s probably more than 50 miles away from that, so it’s quite a distance,” he said.
“We are in the international waters. We're operating in an area where any nation can operate and so we were doing that safely and professionally. The exercise we were able to conduct yesterday was done perfectly, exactly as we planned. The professionalism of PCG and USCG were top-notch,” he added.
Driscoll said the exercise gave the two coast guards an opportunity to work together.
“The exercise was an opportunity to put our sailors and the sailors of the PCG to work to rescue a vessel simulated taking on water... We rescue some people out of the water and I can tell you at the end of the exercise everybody is safe,” he said.
“I think the exercise we did yesterday the search and rescue exercise is indicative of the work that coast guards do at sea and the work that the PCG does here and what we do at home are the same. We have so many things in common and this is just one of those things as coast guards. We almost always start with the search and rescue exercise because that’s what unite us together as a mission,” he added.
Capt. Armando Balilo, Philippine Coast Guard spokesman, emphasized the importance of the exercise, saying the “changing role of the coast guards in maintaining the peace and security of the region”.
“This is very important to the Philippines because of the changing role of the coast in maintaining the peace and security of the region. As you know, there are a lot of countries that have established coast guards. Even China, our neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Vietnam they have coast guard and this is a good opportunity for the two coast guard to conduct undertaking which is very peculiar to the coast guard and were expecting that a lot more will be done in the future,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS