MANILA, Philippines — Two Australian warships docked yesterday at Subic Bay in Olongapo City for a four-day goodwill visit in the country and will conduct maritime exercises in the West Philippine Sea.
Dubbed Passing Exercises (PASSEX), the exercise will be held as the two visiting warships – the long–range guided missile frigate HMAS Anzac and HMAS Success – sail out of Subic on Sunday.
“The goodwill visit will be capped by a send-off ceremony and the customary Passing Exercises, which include a replenishment-at-sea operation wherein Philippine Navy personnel are invited to board the two warships while underway to observe the activity,” Navy spokesman Capt. Lued Lincuna said.
While in the country, the visiting Australian sailors will be engaging with their Filipino counterparts in various activities, including a luncheon aboard Anzac, goodwill games and a traditional boodle fight which will be held on April 14 at the headquarters of the Navy’s Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) in San Antonio, Zambales.
The boodle fight is a tradition practiced by most militaries around the globe to bolster friendship, camaraderie and cooperation among frontline units.
Lincuna said Capt. Bradley White, Australia’s defense attaché to the Philippines, along with Cmdr. Michael Devine, commander of the Anzac and Comdr. Grant Zilko, commander of Success, are scheduled to make a courtesy call on Rear Admiral Allan Ferdinand Cusi, commander of the Navy’s NETC.
“This visit is expected to further strengthen the relationship between the two navies and accordingly amplifies the PN’s firm commitment of maintaining good relationship with other navies,” Lincuna said.
Australia has openly supported the ongoing freedom of navigaton operations conducted by the US Pacific Command in the South China Sea and East China Sea in the wake of mounting concerns over China’s real intentions in line with Beijing’s massive maritime and territorial claim on the two regions.
While China is claiming almost 90 percent of the entire South China Sea and fortifying its occupied areas in the region, it is also laying claim to Japan’s Senkaku Island Group in the East China Sea.