The Philippine Armed Forces (AFP) announced the country and the United States conducted a third joint South China Sea patrol on February 9th. The vessels that participated in the patrol were the U.S.S. Gabrielle Giffords with an MH-60 SeaHawk helicopter and the Philippine BRP Gregorio Del Pilar with an AW109 helicopter.
Drills and training exercises included maritime communications and advanced planning operations as the two ships patrolled together. This exercise is the second held this year, which was held last month, and the first patrol held in November 2023.
The Philippines and the United States began these patrols due to China’s aggressive actions, such as firing water cannons at Philippine vessels and shining lasers at Philippine Coast Guard vessels, towards the country in the South China Sea in 2023.
China claims the entire South China Sea, including the entire Spratly Islands and other features such as Scarborough Shoal, which other countries, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, also claim.