US Navy vessel Brunswick (T-EPF 6) at the Puerto Princesa City pier. (Photo from WESCOM)

The US Navy vessel Brunswick (T-EPF 6) is currently in Puerto Princesa City as part of the joint military exercise KAMANDAG Exercise 2022, which concludes today, October 14.

Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, commander of Western Command (WESCOM), stated Friday that Brunswick is in Palawan for KAMANDAG (Kaagapay ng mga Mandirigma ng Dagat) as a naval platform for training events, as the country and the US maintain their alliance under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

He said that the navy ship, which is currently in use with the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command, is an expeditionary fast-transport vessel that can move troops and military equipment quickly intra-theater.

It can carry up to 600 short tons of equipment for a distance of 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots (nautical miles per hour).

“The USNS Brunswick and the multilateral forces participating in the exercise here in Palawan have forged bilateral and multilateral exchanges between Philippine and U.S. forces, as well as Japan and South Korea,” Carlos said.

“Our joint forces in WESCOM have been given the opportunity to improve their interoperability with participating countries for combined operations that are focused on littoral, territorial, and coastal defense, and maritime domain awareness,” he added.

Carlos also emphasized how these bilateral interactions in the province have helped to develop strong and prepared joint forces that can handle any security threats.

The 3rd Marine Brigade and Marine Battalion Landing Teams 3 and 4 of the Philippines, which are all under the control of Western Command, have trained with the 11th Marine Expedition Unit (MEU) of the US Marine Corps (USMC).

“The capability of our Marines to maneuver across all ranges of military operations and to demonstrate readiness in amphibious operations and humanitarian and disaster response has been beefed up through this bilateral engagement,” he stated.

“WESCOM is grateful to our national leadership for giving us the opportunity to benefit from international defense and security engagements. The increasing presence of our treaty partner and friendly countries, who share our desire of a rules-based order in the WPS, has given WESCOM a boost in our joint operations for external defense,” Carlos added.

Several US Navy and Coastguard ships, in addition to the USNS Brunswick, have made port calls in Palawan and conducted maritime exercises and freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations.

The USS RUSHMORE (LSD-47) and the US Navy Hospital Ship MERCY (T-AH 19), which served as the platform for the recently concluded Pacific Partnership 2022 in Palawan, are among these ships.