MANILA: The naval forces of the Philippines and Australia kick off today the Lumbas 2012, an annual military exercises that aims to enhance the troops’ maritime security capabilities.
The 12th year of the Lumbas maritime training exercise opens on board HMAS Sydney, one of four guided missile frigates of the Royal Australian Navy.
According to the website of the Australian Navy, HMAS Sydney has been extensively upgraded and can provide area air defence, surveillance, anti-submarine and anti-shipping warfare. The Australian warship will also take part in the maritime exercise.
Philippine Navy spokesman Colonel Omar Tonsay said the exercise would run for five days along Manila Bay and nearby areas.
He clarified that the training is not related to the dispute over the West Philippine Sea, noting the naval exercise is held every year.
“The objectives of this maritime training evolve between strengthening mutual relationship between both navies and enhancing competency in naval warfare and maritime security operations,” Tonsay said.
“It also envisions to train the participants in relevant naval doctrines and capabilities as well as to develop camaraderie among participating personnel,” he added.
At least 150 Philippine Navy personnel, including a component from the Naval Special Operations Group, and 200 Australian Navy troops will join the exercise.
Two Philippine Navy ships – BRP Mariano Alvarez and BRP Beinvenido Salping – will take part in the activity.
Lumbas is an offshoot of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation to combat international terrorism, and another MoU on combating transnational crime signed in 2003.
The training includes the conduct of Subject Matter Expertise Exchanges, Seaphase and Fleet Training Exercise, Shiprider Program, and social interaction between the two navies.
It will also focus on anti-terrorism, illegal human and drug trafficking, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response involving the Philippine Navy and the Australian Border Protection Command (BPC).
The BPC is a multi-agency operational authority in charge of border protection and maritime security. It is similar to the Philippines’ Naval Coast Watch System Project.
The Philippine Star