Poro Point, La Union – One of the US’ newest sealift vessels was not challenged by Chinese ships while heading to the port here for humanitarian activities, a ranking US military official said.
Captain James Meyer, commander of the Task Force Forager on board the USNS Millinocket, said they did not even see any Chinese ship while en route.
“Very well, uneventful, great voyage, no problems,” Meyer told reporters in a briefing Thursday.
Captain Joel Roos, surgeon of the US 7th Fleet, said even the commercial plane he rode from Japan was not challenged.
“I flew on a Philippine Airlines from Tokyo so if there was a challenge, it could be in the news right now,” Roos said in jest.
Reporters asked the US military officials if they experienced being challenged by Chinese ships while heading for La Union, a province facing the West Philippine Sea.
Last May, a Chinese warship told a US Navy Poseidon surveillance plane to leave while the latter was flying over those waters.
The incident was recorded and reported by international news network CNN, whose crew joined the flight.
The USNS Millinocket, a ship that can carry as many as a battalion of troops and entered service only in May 2014, arrived in Poro Point, San Fernando City, La Union, on Tuesday to serve as a secondary platform for the humantarian aid program Pacific Partnership.
Another ship, the floating hospital USNS Mercy, serves as the primary platform and is docked in Subic Bay, Zambales, which is also facing the West Philippine Sea.
Also docked in Subic Bay is the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Chicago, who is in a visit to showcase the latest capabilities of the submarine fleet.
While the Millinocket, Mercy, and Chicago are all docked in the country, it was learned that several other US vessels were underway near the Philippines as August began.
Among them are the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen and the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth, who were at the Philippine Sea and at the South China Sea, respectively, on August 1, according to information from the US Pacific Fleet website.
At the Pacific Partnership in La Union, a US medical task force will embark on technical exchanges and medical engagements, while Filipino and American troops are also set to build three two-room schoolhouses, conduct disaster preparedness seminars, and tabletop exercises that simulate disasters, Meyer said. (John Roson)
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